NHL stars coming to Watson Lake

Players and coaches with the Watson Lake Minor Hockey Association are about to host some very special guests.

Players and coaches with the Watson Lake Minor Hockey Association are about to host some very special guests.

In the final stop in the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Goals and Dreams multi-city tour, five past and present NHL players will be making a two-day visit to the Yukon community early next month.

They will take part in a free hockey camp, bring a bunch of equipment and no doubt share some interesting stories about life in the NHL.

Headlining the visit is Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who won gold with Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics.

Also on the roster is Coyotes teammate and winger B.J. Crombeen, who has also played for the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning; Crombeen’s father, Mike, who played for the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers before retiring from the NHL following the 1984/85 season; Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Booth, who has played with the Florida Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks; and Saskatchewan born Brent Gilchrist, who won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

“NHLPA Goals & Dreams has helped deserving children play hockey for the past 15 years, and I am proud to be a part of this upcoming event in August,” said Smith in a news release. “Our whole group is excited to head north – myself, along with B.J. and Mike Crombeen, David Booth and Brent Gilchrist – to help the children of Watson Lake by providing some new equipment and on-ice instruction.”

In addition to a wealth of expertise to be shared, Watson Lake will receive $20,000 in hockey equipment from the Goals and Dreams program.

Over the past 15 years the program has donated more than $22 million to grassroots hockey programs, benefitting over 70,000 children in 33 countries.

“The NHLPA Goals & Dreams tour stop is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the community of Watson Lake, as well as for Yukon youth,” said WLMHA president Denina Paquette in the release.

“It’s important for us to involve as many youth as possible by eliminating financial barriers. We are working with the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association (YAHA), as well as recreational staff in the communities and rural RCMP detachments, to identify participants.”

The free camp, which will take place August 1-2, features a jam-packed schedule. It includes on-ice clinics, talks by the players, a fishing derby and a potlatch. The NHLers will also coach in a community hockey game and will give instruction to Yukon hockey coaches.

“My experience is that anytime you get to be on the ice with other coaches, as well as professional hockey players, it’s a huge learning opportunity,” said Team Yukon and Whitehorse Mustangs coach Martin Lawrie, who will run on-ice drills during the camp. “From YAHA’s perspective, we’re hoping to see a bump in minor hockey registration and a bump in interest.”

For more information contact the Watson Lake Minor Hockey Association at wlminorhockey@gmail.com.

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