Since it was announced in October Whitehorse was going to host this year’s Coy Cup, Yukon hockey fans have been anxious for the puck to drop.
Well, the wait is almost over.
The Whitehorse Huskies, Kelowna Sparta, Terrace River Kings and North Island Capitals will begin their fight for Coy Cup greatness on March 28 with games every day until the final on April 1.
None of the four teams have won the Coy Cup — the B.C. AA men’s championship — before.
“We’re pretty excited, to be honest. We’ve been waiting a long time for this and now it feels like it’s coming on really quick,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton.
When the Huskies take to the ice for their first game of the Coy Cup on March 28 against the Capitals, it’ll be the first time this season every member of the Huskies team will be present.
“Through the course of the year we’ve always had somebody at school or at work or injured or not able to play,” said Tuton. “Next week it’ll finally be the roster that we’ve envisioned since the beginning of the year.”
Huskies fans will notice a name on the roster that hasn’t been there since the start of the season. Forward Evan Campbell, who had shoulder surgery after the first series in October, will be back in the line-up. With his return Derek Klassen is relinquishing the captain title to Campbell, who was captain before going on the disabled list.
“In a show of true class, Derek has handed the ‘C’ back to him,” said Tuton.
The Huskies have crossed paths with all three visiting team in the past.
Whitehorse swept Kelowna 5-3 and 4-2 in a two-game series in the middle of last month. However, the Sparta logged a win against the Huskies in a two-game series in December. The loss was the Huskies’ only one of the regular season, which they finished with a 7-1 record.
The Sparta are in their inaugural season and will make their first Coy Cup appearance next week. They beat the South Island Knights from Vancouver Island 9-2 and 10-6 to secure the spot in the Coy.
“We have been to Whitehorse to play the Huskies twice already this season. We enjoyed the trip and the Huskies always take good care of us so we are excited to be coming back for the Coy Cup,” said Sparta president and player Kelly Loudoun.
The Terrace River Kings came close to not making it to this year’s championship. The River Kings narrowly beat the Williams Lake Stampeders in the playoffs, coming back from a game down before winning in triple overtime to tie the series. They then beat the Stampeders 3-2 in Game 3.
The River Kings also won two straight against the Prince Rupert Rampage in their first playoff series for a Coy Cup berth.
“We are a northern B.C. team and are used to travelling long distances and are looking forward to visiting Whitehorse,” said River Kings head coach Kevin Legros in an email to the News. “We are sure the tournament will be excellent. Not many of our players have been to the Yukon.”
The River Kings, who hosted the Cup last year, have lost in the final the last three years. They beat the Huskies 6-3 in the round robin at last year’s Coy Cup in the two teams’ only AA encounter.
“It’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to going up,” said River Kings general manager Ross Smith. “Most of the guys haven’t been there before, so it’ll be like a little holiday too.”
The North Island Capitals, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, will be making their fifth Coy Cup appearance next week. The team played in four during the 2000s, twice finishing as the runner-up. The team reformed last season after a five-year hiatus.
The Capitals were supposed to face the Powell River Regals in the playoffs but the Regals cancelled the series at the last minute.
“It was very disappointing for us because we put a big effort into having games on the north island and Powell River ended up canceling like a day or two before,” said Capitals player/manager Reed Allen. “They said they couldn’t field a team. We weren’t overly happy because we wanted to play the games.”
The Huskies twice defeated the Capitals in a two-game series just over a year ago. The Capitals lost to the Regals in a playoff series last season before the Huskies defeated the Regals to make it to the Coy Cup.
“We’re excited to come. We went up there last year and played some games, so we’re a little more familiar with the travel requirements and what the rink is like and what to expect from the crowd,” said Allen. “We’re really excited to see where we stand against other teams.”
At last year’s Coy Cup the Huskies lost in the semifinal to the Fort St. John Flyers, who went on to win their second straight title. The Flyers did not make a run for this year’s Cup due to a scheduling conflict with the team.
All games next week will take place at Takhini Arena.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com