Series scheduled, partnerships made, sponsors landed — the Whitehorse Huskies executive board has had many irons in the fire lately.
“We’ve been busy. We’ve got a good board in place, we’ve got some good local sponsors coming on and in October we’ve already got our first series,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton.
Last season the Huskies didn’t play their first game until Dec. 12. The AA men’s hockey team will have eight under their belt by that point this season with four two-game series already scheduled for Whitehorse.
The season will kickoff with series on consecutive weekends against teams from Alberta’s North Central Senior Hockey League.
Whitehorse will host the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs Oct. 15 and 16 and then the Whitecourt Wild Oct. 22 and 23. The Huskies haven’t played the Pontiacs before but split a two-game series with the Wild last December. Both series will be Saturday-Sunday affairs.
“For all the teams coming out of Alberta, the flight schedules with Air North — one of our partners — makes it a lot easier to do the Saturday-Sunday games than Friday-Saturday,” said Huskies president and general manager Dan Johnson.
The Huskies will then host the South Island Knights from Vancouver Island Nov. 18 and 19 and the Kelowna Spartans, a new men’s team, Dec. 9 and 10.
“I know from my playing career Kelowna had some pretty good summer hockey. There tends to be ex-WHL, even ex-pro guys (who) tend to settle there,” said Johnson. “I’ve got some friends who play down there in the men’s league and they say there’s a lot of good hockey.”
“They just started up a team this year. A bunch of college players and ex-junior players,” said Tuton. “They’re in the same boat as the Huskies, putting a team together and taking a run at the Coy Cup.”
If the Spartans want to make a run for the Cup, there’s a chance they’ll be doing it in Whitehorse. The Huskies organization has put in a bid to host the B.C. senior men’s AA championship next March. B.C. Hockey should announce the winning bid within the next week.
“That would be a pretty big win for us. There was a lot of effort with us, Sport Yukon, and board members who really pulled together what we hope is a proposal that will blow them away,” said Johnson.
With all this hosting, it’s good that the Huskies will have some extra help this season. The team has secured a partnership with the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association, which oversees the Whitehorse Mustangs rep hockey program. It creates a connection with Yukon minor hockey — a mandate of the Huskies.
“What we’ve wanted to do from the beginning is to help out and give back to the local hockey around town,” said Tuton. “With the Mustangs taking care of the 50/50 (draws) at all the Huskies games, it’s a great opportunity for them to come out and make some money for the teams. It’s also quite a hassle for us to take care of getting the licensing, getting people to sell the tickets, so they take care of all that stuff.”
The Midget Mustangs will host teams the same weekend as the Huskies-Pontiacs series, so the two organizations will partner up with advertising and logistics. The Huskies will scrimmage against the Midget Mustangs this Monday at the Canada Games Centre at 5:45 p.m. It is the first of two scrimmages with the second on Sept. 19.
“It’s a chance for the coaches to have a look at some new players,” said Tuton.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org