Look out Fort St. John Flyers, Smithers Steelheads and Terrace River Kings – the Huskies are coming for you.
The Whitehorse Huskies will vie for the B.C. AA title against those three teams at the Coy Cup next week.
They punched their ticket for the club’s first Coy Cup appearance with wins over the Powell River Regals this past weekend at Takhini Arena.
“We’re super excited,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “I’m just happy for this group of guys. They all came together, started playing for each other. They put a lot of effort into this and they wanted it.
“Everyone was excited to be here Sunday. Game 3, a deciding game, at home – I don’t know what more you could ask for.”
Considering that the best-of-three playoff series went to three games, there were some pretty lopsided scores in there.
The Huskies produced a very sound 13-5 win Friday, before a 7-2 loss Saturday, and finally – with all the chips on the table – an 8-3 win Sunday.
“In Game 2 they really tightened it up. They had a good game plan against us,” said Huskies captain Evan Campbell. “I felt like we had our legs going, but systematically they beat us. They clogged the neutral zone and we just couldn’t get much by them.”
“After that first game, putting up 13 goals, psychologically you go, ‘this might be a bit easy,’” he added. “Today we knew it was going to be a battle. Everyone knew they had to play their role and do the little things right.”
Campbell’s forward line, which includes centre Adam Henderson and winger Kane Dawe, racked up 11 points in Sunday’s deciding game. Campbell notched two goals and two assists; Henderson one goal and three assists; and Dawe, who was the only Huskies player to score in all three games, with one goal and two assists.
“It’s so fun to play with them and we just feed off each other,” said Henderson. “We have that chemistry – right place, right time. We just know where everyone is.”
The Huskies scored two in the first and two early in the second for a 4-0 lead in Sunday’s game before the Regals narrowed the gap with three quick goals. Whitehorse’s Gibson Pearson stole back the momentum with a big hit and an unassisted goal with 1:51 left in the second. Ted Stephens, Rob Stuckey and Kaleb Dawe also scored in the game for the Huskies. Stephens also found the back of the net during Saturday’s 7-2 loss.
“We have a fast team, a physical team, and we got away from that Saturday night,” said Tuton. “There was very little said today. There’s been enough talk, it was just time to get out and do it. I’m proud of the guys, the way they rebounded.
“I’m so proud of (goalie) J.J. Gainsforth, the way he came in there and really took the team with him.”
Gainsforth started all three games, but came out for Daniel Naef in the third period on Saturday.
The Huskies jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start Friday’s game as the Campbell line put on a show with plays suitable for any highlight reel. (A blind backhand pass from Campbell to Kane, who scored to make it 2-0, was a crowd pleaser.)
Campbell finished Friday with two goals and four assists; Henderson and assistant captain Derek Klassen both had two goals and two assists; Kane had a goal and three assists; and forward Kevin Petovello knocked in two goals.
“After the first period of the first game, it wasn’t looking good,” said Regals captain Andy Welsh. “It always seems like our travel day up here is our toughest game. Coming off that flight we always struggle. It was one bad loss, but we came out and played really good Saturday.”
The Regals, who won the Coy Cup in 2010, travelled to Whitehorse with nine forwards and four defence. (Contrary to rumours, the Regals didn’t have more players fly up before Saturday’s game.)
In the third period of Game 3, “We just ran out of gas,” said Welsh. “Not having a full line-up up here really hurt us in the third period … (The Huskies) were fresher, skated better than us and that’s why they won.
“When you go on the road, it’s tough because you’re always short,” he added. “It’s hard to have guys get the time off.”
Speaking of which, with the Coy Cup starting Tuesday in Terrace, Huskies players will be having sit-downs with their bosses this week to see if they can get time off.
“There’ll be a few conversations tomorrow,” said Tuton. “We have some great folks in Whitehorse, so I’m sure there’ll be a lot of time off given out … It’s Whitehorse’s team, so everyone has to step in and do their part.”
“Hopefully all of our employers can give us the week off,” said Henderson. “We’re going down there with the determination to bring home the Coy Cup.”
Contact Tom Patrick at