The Whitehorse Huskies are determined to hoist the Coy Cup.
The senior men’s hockey team will make another run for British Columbia’s AA championship trophy, it was announced this week.
“We’ve got big plans to win that thing in the next couple of years,” said head coach Michael Tuton. “This year the team will be really close to the same as far as players, but there will be open tryouts this year. So we’re looking at having a two-day tryout at the end of the month as soon as we get some ice-time secured. We’ll open that up to the communities too, so if anybody else out in the communities who would like to try out, we’d love to have a look.”
The Huskies took steps to become a full-fledged organization this week. Team operations will now be overseen by a board of directors, elected on Tuesday in an annual general meeting.
“Last year with the Huskies, it was the result of a lot of hard work from a couple of individuals, the coach included, to get things going,” said incoming president and general manager Matt King. “They were looking for a way to get more organized on the business side of the organization – though it’s not business, it’s a non-profit society.
“But we’ve approached it recognizing we need a team of people to help support the team to get it off the ground and to deal with a lot of the simple things to make a season successful.”
Also taking seats at the big table are vice presidents David Larkin and Matt Ordish, who has a masters degree in business with a focus on sports team management.
Jim King, Matt’s father, is the new treasurer and director of game day operations. Jim was the team’s GM in the 2009/10 season.
Former Whitehorse Mustangs rep coach Barry Blisner has also joined the coaching staff.
The director of marketing is Josh Schroeder, who has worked with a major junior team, the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“He was taking care of social media and web pages in the WHL, so we’re really excited to have him,” said Tuton.
Tuesday’s meeting was productive. In addition to selecting the board, the team came away with three main goals that extend into the 2017 season.
Number one is “building a winning team and I think part of that means helping to engage the community and get some sponsorship options on the table,” said Matt. “And make connections with the teams in B.C. and anchor the team in Yukon as a competitive senior hockey team.”
Number two is “to grow hockey in Yukon,” said Matt. “That’s done a number of different ways, but one of them is to partner with minor hockey … Potentially host a hockey camp for kids.”
Number three is “to hopefully host the Coy Cup in 2017,” he added. “So a lot of my job, and that of the other board members, is trying to prepare the bid packages and figuring out what we have to do to make that happen.”
The Huskies played two seasons of AAA in the early 1990s and won the Allan Cup – Canada’s senior AAA trophy – in 1993.
After 16 years of dormancy, the team was revived in 2009 in an effort to reclaim its former glory. However, because of the cost of importing Outside players, travel costs and increasingly poor ticket sales through the season, the club was unable to make ends meet and the 2010/2011 season was scrubbed.
The Huskies club was resurrected as a AA team last season following a five-year hiatus.
They set out with a goal of winning the Coy Cup and came pretty darn close.
The Huskies went undefeated in eight exhibition games with four wins over the Fort Nelson Yeti, two over the Powell River Regals and two over the Yellowknife Flyers.
Whitehorse then lost two straight in a best-of-three playoff series to the Fort St. John Flyers in March, ending the team’s season. The Flyers went on to win the Coy Cup, defeating the Terrace River Kings in the final.
The Huskies are already in talks with the Yeti, Regals and Flyers.
“For a schedule, we’re looking at similar to last year,” said Tuton, who is also the director of roster and team management.
“We’re looking for a sponsor, which we didn’t have last year …
A key sponsor who wants a piece of the Huskies,” he added. “We’re looking at some different things: more entertainment at the games, merchandise will be available this year … possibly season tickets and stuff like that.”
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