This weekend the Whitehorse Huskies will lace-up to face the Port Hardy North Island Capitals.
Fans will get two games of action-packed hockey, but they won’t be the only to benefit from the weekend series.
Local minor teams and businesses also profit from the efforts of the home team, says Huskies general manager Matt King.
“It takes a fair bit of money to operate senior hockey because there are a lot of costs involved, from ice rentals to airline tickets flying teams up, hotels and whatnot,” said King. “We’ve had great support from the business community. I think it’s important to acknowledge that the money that comes into the team - we’re a non-profit organization - goes back out into the community and into the community businesses.
“So not only do you get a good product on the ice and entertainment for the fans, but you can see the positive benefits that this type of organization can have on the community.”
As the Huskies notch goals, youth hockey teams raise funds to help with their season expenses. During the first series of the season last month, Whitehorse Minor Hockey’s atom development team held 50/50 draws and split the profits from the beer garden, taking in about $3,000, said King.
The Yukon Peewee Mustangs rep team, along with its parent volunteers, will work this weekend’s games.
“Our preference is to always give it to the minor hockey teams,” said King.
The Huskies, whose title sponsor is Yukon’s Nuway Crushing Ltd., also benefit local businesses with each series they play in town, said King. Visiting teams stay at hotels, eat at restaurants and visit local attractions. (The last visiting team took a trip out to the Takhini Hot Pools for a dip.) All the visiting teams fly Air North.
The Huskies organization rents ice time from the city, advertises in publications, uses local printing services, and more. (Yukon Brewing beverages sell like hotcakes in the beer garden.)
It all adds up…
“We estimate that so far we’ve put about $40,000 back into local businesses in the community,” said King. “By the end of the third series here in January, we expect we will have put about $65,000 back into the local economy.
“Obviously there are the other dollars spent by teams when they are at the hotels and local restaurants and businesses.”
This weekend will mark the first time the two senior AA teams meet, but it might not be the last this season.
Like the Huskies, the North Island Capitals are going for the Coy Cup - British Columbia’s AA championship trophy.
Also like the Huskies team, which was resurrected last season after five years of dormancy, the Capitals were recently brought back from the dead.
The Vancouver Island team started in the 2002/2003 season and played about five seasons before dissolving. In that time they played in four Coy Cups, twice reaching the final without winning it.
“The last couple of years there have been a lot of young kids that were coming back from junior B and junior A, and even straight out of minor hockey, who were pretty good who had nowhere to play other than our (rec) league,” said Capitals coach/captain John Murgatroyd. “We had a lot of interest so we decided to put it back together this year.”
Neither team plays in a league, but the Capitals have logged more exhibition games than the Huskies so far this season. They have played the Powell River Regals in five, winning one.
“I feel pretty good about (this weekend’s series),” said Murgatroyd. “I played up there last year with Powell River. Whitehorse had a pretty good team, but I think the team we’ve got should be competitive with them.”
The Huskies, who split their first series of the season against Alberta’s Whitecourt Wild last month, will host Powell River Jan. 22-23. By filling their dance card with six regular season games, the Huskies will qualify to play for the Coy Cup.
This weekend’s games start 7 p.m. Friday and 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Takhini Arena. Ticket information can be found at the Huskies’ Facebook page.
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