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Whitehorse Huskies to fight for Coy Cup on home ice

Step one: host Coy Cup. Step two: hoist Coy Cup. That’s the plan for the Whitehorse Huskies and step one is already in the bag.

Step one: host Coy Cup.

Step two: hoist Coy Cup.

That’s the plan for the Whitehorse Huskies and step one is already in the bag.

The Huskies will be the home team as Whitehorse hosts the 2017 Coy Cup next March, B.C. Hockey announced Wednesday.

As the hosting team, the Huskies will directly qualify for the Cup tournament — the B.C. AA senior men’s championship.

“Needless to say, I’m quite excited,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “As far as the team goes, it’s great news. It means no playoffs for us this year, it means no 16-hour bus rides, it means we get to stay at home all season. We’ll wait to see who else makes it to the Cup and go from there.”

The fast-approaching hockey season will be the Huskies’ third in AA. The Whitehorse team was selected to host the Cup over the Powell River Regals and the Fort St. John Flyers — last season’s Coy Cup champions — both of which placed their own bids.

The Huskies board of directors began preparing their bid, which runs 30 pages long, in July.

“We put together a very professional bid. A lot of people put in a lot of thought about how we’re going to structure this,” said Huskies president/general manager Dan Johnson. “And because we’re in a really unique spot and Whitehorse draws very good crowds compared to other senior hockey teams, we were able to put forward a very healthy compensation package, which we were required to do. So we’re taking care of all those teams that come up here. And I think we sold them on the community experience.”

Whitehorse’s appreciable history of hosting major events, such as softball world championships, cross-country ski nationals, the Canada Winter Games and the Arctic Winter Games, made the city a safe bet to host, said Johnson.

The Huskies board drew from the wealth of experience Yukon sports organizations have in preparing bids for major events.

“There is a pretty big group of people who spent a lot of time, a lot of hours to put together the bid,” said Johnson. “It brought in all sorts of groups who helped us or encouraged us, provided resources or just general support in terms of, ‘If you guys go forward and are successful, we’ll be behind you.’ Everybody from Sport Yukon providing resources to prepare the bid and the general sporting community. Everybody we talked to has been supportive, a ton of companies around town have stepped up to the plate to sponsor us throughout the year and will continue that at the Coy Cup now that we’ve been successfully awarded it.”

The fact that the Huskies have a robust fan base, consistently drawing over 500 spectators to games in Whitehorse, was also noted in B.C. Hockey’s press release. (B.C. Hockey did not respond to an interview request by press time.)

“We are looking forward to Whitehorse hosting the Coy Cup in March,” said Trevor Bast, B.C. Hockey’s adult male co-ordinator, in the release. “The Huskies have reignited senior hockey in the community over the past year, and we know they will put on a great event.”

“Whitehorse is a passionate hockey community and the support of the Huskies fan base is impressive,” said Barry Petrachenko, B.C. Hockey’s chief executive officer. “We are confident Whitehorse will host an exceptional event and look forward to bringing this event to the Yukon.”

The Coy Cup, which dates back to the 1922-23 season, will feature four teams counting the Huskies. The three other teams will play playoff series in B.C.’s three regions to earn a spot.

Two years ago the Huskies didn’t make it to the Cup with playoff losses to the Fort St. John Flyers, who have won the championship the last two seasons.

The Huskies beat the Powell River Regals — the 2010 champions — in a best-of-three series to reach the Coy Cup last March. They were then eliminated in the semifinals with a loss to the Flyers.

“One thing I want to say is how happy we are as an organization,” said Tuton. “To be picked as the host team, it really solidifies what we’re doing as an organization and what we’re doing with the people in the boardrooms and the amount of work they’re putting in. And a chance to play at home in front of our fans who, from what I’ve seen, are the best fans in the league.

“We have some people who are diehard Huskies fans and we’re just excited to go through this whole process with them in the rink.”

Those diehards won’t have to wait to March to get their fix. They hardly have to wait a week.

The Huskies will kick off the season hosting two teams from Alberta’s North Central Senior Hockey League in consecutive weekends beginning with 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.

The 2017 Coy Cup is currently scheduled for March 21-25, but is subject to change. It will feature two games each day, all of which will take place at Takhini Arena.

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