Yukon hockey talent is spilling over the territorial border into B.C. Six local female players have been scooped up by two B.C. hockey programs.
Teslin’s Adrianne Dewhurst, Haines Junction’s Sierra Oakley and Whitehorse’s Lynsey Keaton have been selected to play for Team B.C. at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships next month in Saskatoon.
Around the same time, Whitehorse’s Tamara Greek, Marsh Lake’s Jocelyn Wynnyk and Haines Junction’s Dana van Vliet are going to the B.C. U18 Cup in Invermere, B.C.
The Cup is the second stage in a multiple-step program to qualify for B.C.‘s national team.
“When you’re going to trials, it can depend on who is going to be there. But the fact that all of them have made the team two years in a row – except for Tamara Greek, who wasn’t there last year because she was too young – shows that the (Yukon development) program is working well,” said Louis Bouchard, who coached all six players on the Yukon’s female team at the Arctic Winter Games a month ago.
Bouchard said he believes B.C.‘s selection process is getting tougher each year.
Dewhurst, who plays on the Whitehorse Female Mustangs rep team with Keaton, Oakley and van Vliet, made B.C.‘s aboriginal team last year but opted to tryout for B.C.‘s provincial team.
“I switched it up this year,” said Dewhurst. “I’m pretty excited. I’ve never been to Saskatoon. I’ve never been to a tournament this big before that far away – other than Halifax with our Canada Games team.
“I’m with a completely different team this year so I’m pretty excited.”
Keaton and Oakley both played on B.C. at the aboriginal tournament last year, helping the team finish fifth. The three Yukoners were unable to attend tryouts for the team but made the roster because of their performances last year and game footage from this season sent to the team’s management.
“They made the team on the strength of last year’s record and we sent them videos of their season this year,” said Bouchard.
After making the first big cut in Prince George, B.C., two weeks ago, Greek, Wynnyk and van Vliet are now grouped in with the province’s top-100 players. In a couple weeks, they will go through a series of skills and fitness tests before playing in a jamboree style tournament before the remaining 100 players are cut by half.
Wynnyk and van Vliet both made the first cut last year as first-year midgets.
“It’s tough to make it as a first-year-midget,” said Bouchard. “So they are going again with a bit more experience, a bit more strength and speed. Mostly, they’re more prepared mentally.”
Wynnyk and Greek are the only two of the six who do not play for the Female Mustangs. Greek is currently the only female player on the Midget B Mustangs team and Wynnyk plays goal for the Prince George Cougars, a AAA midget team.
“It has been a good experience. I’d definitely do it again if I had the chance,” said Greek. “It’s probably one of the most intense things I’ve done in hockey.
“Last year I was too young for the cut. I could have gone for U-16 but I decided not to.”
Not only did all six play on Team Yukon at the Arctic Games last month, winning bronze, all six represented the territory at the Canada Winter Games last year in Halifax. At last month’s Arctic Games Greek was named Most Valuable Defenceman in the tournament, scoring a hat trick in the bronze game.
With the exception of Keaton, all of them also played on the Yukon’s silver-winning team at the 2010 Arctic Games in Grande Prairie, Alta.
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