As Whitehorse Huskies head coach Michael Tuton explains, when you’re a hockey team dependent on community support, a chance to give back is always welcome.
“Of course we’re going to jump all over it,” he said.
The Huskies gave back and picked up a hard-fought win last Friday at Takhini Arena in the club’s first charity game since being resurrected as a senior AA team three years ago.
“I’d call it a big success,” said Tuton. “I know my guys had a lot of fun and it was nice to see a lot of fans in the stands, that’s for sure. And at the end of the day we raised a lot of money for a good cause, so I think that qualifies for a good night.”
The Huskies squeaked out a 7-6 overtime win over a team called All Out Hockey full of young elite Yukoners playing on teams outside the territory, many of who have played for the terriitory at major events and are alumni of Yukon Mustangs rep teams.
“These are boys, I know where they’re playing, and they come home and train with me in the summers. I’ve know these guys since they were peewee,” said All Out Hockey coach Jake Jirousek. “So I just wanted to give them a chance to play together one last time and do something really good for charity.”
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. Sponsor Nuway Crushing Ltd. has matched that sum, bringing the total to over $8,000.
“It’s men showing support for a women’s transition home,” said Jirousek. “When the boys heard about it, that that was what we wanted to do, they wanted to make that statement: they were men supporting a women’s transition home.”
The two teams exchanged blows on the scoreboard, dropping into a tie game four times leading up to overtime. Huskies forward Adam Henderson ended the game with a shorthanded unassisted goal — his second goal of the night.
Also scoring for the Huskies were Ted Stephens, Kane Dawe, Rob Stuckey and Andrew Pettitt with two.
The Huskies picked up a few young guys to fill out their roster including Riley Smoler, Jonas Leas, Kaine Comin and Jack Blisner, who logged an assist in the game.
“I thought those kids played great,” said Tuton. “There’s some good talent in the Yukon. It just goes to show that our minor hockey program is on the right track.”
“We were a little lucky that the Huskies didn’t have all their guys out, but our boys are playing some high-level hockey and are probably in better shape, so they used their wheels and I think they surprised people how quick they were,” said Jirousek. “I think people were expecting a scrimmage and then the competitiveness of both teams started to pick up and it got to be quite a good game.”
All Out got on the board with six different scorers.
Bryce Anderson, who plays for the Valley West Hawks in the BCMML and the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL, got the ball rolling for All Out in the first period.
Wyatt Gale and Riley Pettit, who both play for the Summerland Steam in the KIJHL, put in the next two.
Dylan Cozens, who plays for Yale Hockey Academy and the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL, knocked in the fourth goal unassisted.
Craig Berube, captain of the Notre Dame Hounds in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, put in the fifth before Notre Dame teammate Alex Hanson found the back of the net.
“It’s good to be home and playing in front of all those people — it’s pretty fun,” said Cozens. “I played with some guys I played with a few years ago, so it was good to play with them again. To play with my old line of Bryce Anderson and Joe Stokes, that was good.”
“It was a pretty good tempo game,” he added. “There wasn’t hitting, so it didn’t get too heated, but was pretty intense. Not too intense, but a little bit.”
Last Friday’s charity game came on the heels of the Huskies booking their next series. The Huskies will host the Kainai Braves, a First Nations team from Alberta, Jan. 7 and 8 at Takhini Arena.
With the series the Huskies will have their six B.C. Hockey recognized games to qualify for the Coy Cup — the B.C. men’s AA championship — which will be held in Whitehorse this March.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com