The Whitehorse Huskies will scratch an important item off their to-do list this weekend.
The senior men’s AA team will host the Kainai Braves, a First Nations team from Alberta, for a two-game series this weekend.
With the series the Huskies will have their mandatory six B.C. Hockey-recognized games to qualify for the Coy Cup, which will guarantee the team a spot as the host of the B.C. AA men’s championship this March in Whitehorse.
“This will be games five and six, which gets us on the up and up with the league,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “I’m excited to have that out of the way, and everything we get after this is all bonus.”
The Braves, which are based out of Stand Off within the Blood Indian reserve in southern Alberta, play in the Ranchland Senior Hockey League. They will bring a team of 19 players to take on the Huskies this weekend.
“It’ll be awesome. We’re all looking forward to it,” said Braves assistant GM and defenceman Jeremy Weasel Moccasin. “There are guys on the team who have never been up to the Yukon, who haven’t been up that far north, so they’re looking forward to it.”
The Braves won the Ranchland league title in 1997 but disbanded for about half a decade before reuniting three seasons ago.
They made the final in 2015 and the semifinal last year, and are currently tied for second in the league.
“I coached Jeremy with Old Crow (at the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament) years back and we’ve always just kept in touch,” said Tuton. “He contacted me earlier this year to see if I knew any AA players that were kicking around Alberta that they could pick up, and I told him to be ready, we may invite them up to Whitehorse.
“With teams bailing, not being able to make it up, and us needing out six games by next week, we called them up and he’s pretty excited to come up here.”
The Huskies are 3-1 so far this season against men’s teams.
The Whitehorse club split a two-game series against the Kelowna Sparta — a new team also going for the Coy Cup — in December.
They beat Alberta’s Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs in two games in their first series of the season in October.
Huskies goalie Jon Olthuis of Calgary, who played his first games for Whitehorse against the Pontiacs, will fly up for this weekend’s series.
The Huskies squeaked out a 7-6 overtime win over a team of young elite Yukoners playing on teams outside the territory in a charity game on Dec. 23.
With just over 600 fans in the stands, the game raised more than $4,000 for Kaushee’s Place, a women’s transition home in Whitehorse. Huskies main sponsor Nuway Crushing Ltd. matched that sum, bringing the total to over $8,000.
The two-game series against the Braves will take place Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. at Takhini Arena.
Minor hockey players wearing their team’s jersey will get in for free at Sunday’s game.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org