The Yukon will be represented on female hockey teams in three provinces this winter.
Whitehorse’s Tamara Greek, Marsh Lake’s Jocelyn Wynnyk and Teslin’s Adrianne Dewhurst have all been picked up by Outside hockey clubs after strong performances on B.C. teams last season.
All three played on Team Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games earlier this year, winning bronze, represented the territory at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, and played on the Yukon’s silver-winning team at the 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Dewhurst had the farthest to travel for her new team, the Scanlon Creek Hockey Academy in Barrie, Ontario. The 17-year-old centre was scouted by the academy’s head coach, Matt Smith, while playing for Team B.C. at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Saskatchewan.
“They offered me a $5,000 scholarship to come,” said Dewhurst. “The season is going good so far … We had our first win last weekend against Ridley College. I got a goal and an assist.
“It’s definitely very intense and it took about a week to get used to.”
The academy, which is in its inaugural season, is run by founders and former professional players Smith and Jenya Feldman. Smith played on the minor league teams of the Florida Panthers and the St. Louis Blues, and in the American Hockey League. Feldman has played in the CHL and the Metro Junior A Hockey League.
Dewhurst is on the team with players from throughout North America and Europe, plus three from N.W.T.
“(It’s) pretty awesome,” said Dewhurst. “Getting to play with other people from Russia, U.S.A., Hungary, Australia and all over Canada is so sick.”
Last season Greek and Wynnyk became the first Yukon players, male or female, to advance past the early stages of the U18 B.C. Cup in Invermere, B.C.
Greek, like Dewhurst, is playing for an academy. She is on the Bears in the Banff Hockey Academy, which competes in the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League. She was scouted by head coach Kendall Newell during the B.C. Cup.
Greek describes the team as one big family.
“I love it down there,” said Greek. “It’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love my team, they are so good. They are so welcoming and nice. It’s just an amazing group of girls.”
At the Arctic Winter Games, held in Whitehorse last March, Greek was named Most Valuable Defenceman in the tournament, scoring a hat trick in the bronze game.
This past summer, Greek played for a U21 women’s team in Stockholm, Sweden. The team went on to win bronze in an open women’s tournament in Prague, Czech Republic. Greek was the youngest on the team, having turned 16 yesterday.
“I got my bronze medal and jersey framed and gave it to my grandpa in the community of Watson Lake,” said Greek.
So far this season, the Bears have played two exhibition games against a AAA team, winning both, but lost their regular season opener.
Greek hasn’t registered any points yet, “But I’ve gotten a lot of penalties,” laughed Greek.
On Thursday she and the Bears flew to Ottawa for a showcase tournament of about 10 female teams. The tournament stands will be full of scouts looking for new talent.
“If there are any girls looking into it, I would definitely recommend it,” said Greek. “It’s such a great opportunity. It’s definitely something different, living away from home, but it’s totally worth it. The experience you get, the new people you meet – it’s just a big step in life that I was definitely willing to take.”
Wynnyk is currently the starting goalie for Vancouver’s Pacific Steelers in the Junior Women’s Hockey League, a U19 league with both Canadian and American teams.
She was selected by the team’s general manager when the GM heard about Wynnyk’s performance at the B.C. provincial camp and the B.C. Cup.
In preseason play, the Steelers have already defeated both the league’s defending champions and the American champions.
“All the coaches tell us how well we play together as a team,” said Wynnyk, in an email to the News. “The team is like a family and not one person is more important than the other. We are very supportive and I find that it just makes everything so much easier and enjoyable.”
Wynnyk spent last season playing in net for the Prince George Cougars, a AAA midget team.
Like her former teammates, Dewhurst and Greek, Wynnyk hopes playing on the team will lead to competing at the university level.
“Being on such a high-level team, it makes you realize how good you actually are and where you could go,” said Wynnyk. “Many of the teams I play against have girls who played on Team Canada and Team USA. The biggest thing about this team is that everywhere we go there are scouts for the national team and colleges and universities. I’ve gotten a few offers from some schools in the states to play there next year. It’s pretty exciting and overwhelming at the same time but an awesome feeling knowing you can play at that level. I’m hoping to get asked to play on a university team. I have a few in mind that I have been emailing and talking to.”
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