A pan-territorial hockey rival will ignite once again this weekend.
The Whitehorse Mustangs and the Yellowknife Wolfpack rep hockey clubs will face off in both capital cities at the second annual Air North Hockey Challenge, beginning Friday.
“It’s bringing the associations together, so we’re really happy with it,” said Carl Burgess, president of the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association. “Lots of friendships were made last year. I know players are looking forward to meeting up with their buddies in Yellowknife and the kids are texting and calling each other already.”
This weekend will feature 24 games with 12 in Whitehorse and 12 in Yellowknife as three Yellowknife teams travel to Whitehorse and three Whitehorse teams head over to Yellowknife.
The two territorial hockey associations came together to create the Air North Hockey Challenge after Yukon’s airline of the same name began direct flights between the two capitals.
“Air North is awesome again,” said Burgess. “I think we’ll have 120 players in the air between Whitehorse and Yellowknife going back and forth. We’re not sure of the number of parents going as well, but it’s a really big operation.”
“We’re hoping to match the teams up again later in the New Year,” he added.
The peewee, female and midget Mustangs will face their Wolfpack counterparts in Whitehorse.
Atom and Bantam Mustangs, as well as a Whitehorse novice team, will head over to Yellowknife to compete.
“The novice team, we put together for this,” said Burgess. “Yellowknife does their rep development program right down into novice, so they asked if we could do that. So we put a novice team together that might be up to the challenge. It’s just a one-off novice team (with) novice house league players.”
The weekend’s action in Whitehorse kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a match-up between the Peewee Wolfpack and the Peewee Mustangs, followed by female and midget games.
A ceremonial puck-drop will take place Saturday at 12:30 p.m. following three morning games and before three afternoon games.
Whitehorse Minor has really stepped things up this season at home.
Seven outside teams are set to travel to Whitehorse for a joint peewee and bantam tournament in November.
The Atom Jr. Mustangs will again be the hometown favourites as they host a second annual Atom tournament early December.
Whitehorse has also been selected to host the Tier 3 midget division of the B.C. Hockey Championships this March.
“Travelling hockey associations – especially northern ones – are always looking for opportunities to compete against peers,” said Burgess. “Getting enough games in during the year before provincials is a priority.
“It’s always challenging. So having Air North as an official airline is a huge advantage for us these days.”
All games in Whitehorse this weekend will be held at Takhini Arena and attendance is free. See the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association website for more details.
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