While all the Yukon will be cheering on its athletes at the Canada Winter Games, next February in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the girls’ hockey team may hold special significance for the territory’s smaller communities.
Contrasting significantly with Team Yukon’s boys’ squad that has only one player from outside Whitehorse, the majority of the girls’ team is from outside, with only eight of its 18 from the capital.
“As you can notice this team is representative of the territory, thanks in part to the great people putting together hockey programs in the different communities,” said head coach Louis Bouchard.
Like the girls’ squad sent to the Arctic Winter Games in March, the present team is also characterized by its youth, with the average age hovering around 14.
“We have a couple of 12-year-olds and one 17-year-old player,” said Bouchard. “So the four 17-year-olds that were eligible didn’t come to trials or didn’t want to commit to the full program.”
However, don’t let the wetness behind the team’s ears lead you to count them out. At the Arctic Games, which is an under-20 tournament, Team Yukon surpassed expectations, winning silver and even defeating powerhouse Alaska en route to the podium. The Canada Games is an under-18 competition.
On the other hand, “We’re missing our top players from the Arctic Games,” said Bouchard, who has only seven returning players from the Games.
Either because of players exceeding age limits, or simply choosing not to try out, the team will be without its former captain Chantelle Rivest, high-scorer Angela Burke, Alex Bouchard on defence and goalie Teneesha Merkel.
Team Yukon, which also plays under the name Northern Avalanche in some Outside tournaments and the Scotia Bank team in the bantam house league, will be attending a training camp in Haines Junction in December, between two scheduled tournaments before the Canada Games.
“The whole team is going, so we’re going to spend the weekend there,” said Bouchard. “It’s great team bonding for us, plus we get the skills training.”
Up first is the Hayley Wickenheiser Hockey Tournament next month in Burnaby, BC.
“We’re going into the midget division, even though we only have a few midget players,” said Bouchard. “I think we’ll do well. We have some pretty good skaters.
“Our goal actually is to compete throughout the tournament, to be as strong at the end as they are in the beginning. They have been focusing on their fitness a lot, so it’s important for us to remain strong throughout the tournament. If we finish first or fourth or 15th, I don’t even care. Obviously, if we finish first it’s better, but that isn’t our ultimate goal.”
After the Hayley Wickenheiser, the following tournament will take place over the Christmas holidays in Langley, BC.
Team Yukon roster
Adrianne Dewhurst – LW (Teslin)
Ashtyn Sandulak – RW (Whitehorse)
Brittney Brown – RW (Haines Junction)
Christina McIntyre – RW (Dawson)
Chyanne Spenner – D (Whitehorse)
Dana vanVliet – RW (Haines Junction)
Hannah Turner – D (Whitehorse)
Jocelyn Wynnyk – G (Marsh Lake)
Linsey Eby – C (Whitehorse)
Lynsey Keaton – D (Whitehorse)
Madison Logan – C (Whitehorse)
Maya Oakley – G (Haines Junction)
Natalja Blanchard – RW (Dawson)
Sadie Whitelaw – LW (Whitehorse)
Savannah vanVliet – D (Haines Junction)
Sierra Oakley – LW (Haines Junction)
Tamara Greek – D (Whitehorse)
Tshayla Nothstein – C (Faro)
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