It’s do or die for the Whitehorse Huskies this coming weekend.
After six exhibition games so far this season, the stakes are high as the Huskies hosts the Powell River Regals in a best-of-three playoff series that will determine which team goes on to the Coy Cup – the B.C. AA men’s championship.
“We’re excited for it. This is the series we’ve been waiting for,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “We have the team that we want to play and we have the venue. Anybody playing that series is going to want to play it at home. We can do it in front of the home fans, so it’s just time to go out and get it done.”
The Regals, who won the Coy Cup in 2010, defeated the Port Hardy North Island Capitals in two games last month to reach this weekend’s series against the Huskies. They downed the Caps 6-3 and 4-3 in overtime.
The Huskies, who have a 4-2 season record, split a two-game series against the Regals – winning 5-3 and losing 6-5 – in January.
“They are bringing up their A team, which is not necessarily the same guys that we saw last time they were up here,” said Huskies general manager Matt King. “It’ll be a tough match-up, for sure. They have some guys who have played pro, drafted by the NHL. The have (Edmonton Oilers’) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ older brother, Adam Nugent-Hopkins, on their team. It’s going to be a good match-up.”
The Huskies pulled off the split against the Regals in January despite missing some of their best skaters, most of who should be back this weekend.
Assistant captain and defenceman Jared Tuton, who was in Grande Prairie, Alta., will be back. So will forward and former CHL and ECHL pro Kevin Petovello, who was out with a groin injury.
The team is waiting on word about forward Joe Densmore, who was leading the team with nine points before the last series.
“Joe Densmore is still a game-time decision – whether he can get up here or not,” said Michael. “He’s going to school down in Victoria.”
“We’re pretty happy with the way our roster is going to look and now it’s just a matter of having guys ready, which they will be come puck drop on Friday.
“We’re going to come out flying. It’s going to be quite a battle … We’re expecting them to come flying at us and we’re going to be ready for them.”
Over 700 Whitehorse hockey fans have been in the stands for the last few games and the Huskies hope the numbers will continue to be strong despite the timing of the series. Many of Yukon’s top young players are out of town, either at the Arctic Winter Games or heading to the B.C. Hockey Championships that begin Sunday.
“It’s tough timing, for sure,” said King. “This was just the first weekend there was ice-time available … It’s unfortunate so many in our fan base will be away with Arctic Winter Games and provincials – and spring break, for that matter.
“But we’re still hoping for good fan support and people to come out. Maybe if someone hasn’t seen the game yet, this would be a great series to come and watch. This is going to be really fast, high-calibre hockey.”
Friday’s game will feature a ceremonial puck drop to honour the five athletes from Special Olympics Yukon who competed at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games last week in Corner Brook, N.L.
The action starts Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m. (if necessary). All games will take place at Takhini Arena.
Tickets are on sale now. See the Whitehorse Huskies Facebook page for more information.
“We’re pretty excited we’ll be unveiling a new set of jerseys,” added King. “Our sponsor, Nuway Crushing, has helped us to purchase new jerseys so the team should be looking pretty sharp out there on the ice.”
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