The Yukon Rivermen wrapped up the B.C. Bantam Zone Tier One regular season with a three-game home stand against the East Kootenay Ice on March 3 to 5.
Shorthanded, thanks to a smattering of injuries and the expected end-of-season fatigue, the Rivermen dressed six players from the Arctic Winter Games development team to fill out their roster.
Head coach Martin Lawrie said the weekend was an opportunity for those players to get a taste of what play in the tier one league was like.
“Of the kids that we brought up from the development team, four of those six are first-year players,” said Lawrie. “We would expect that’ll we’ll see them in camp next year.”
“All in all, getting those development players a bit of exposure potentially for next year was a positive.”
In the first game of the weekend, the Ice beat the Rivermen 4-1 on March 3.
The next day, the Rivermen and Ice battled to a 5-5 tie.
Game three was a rare Monday morning matchup for the Rivermen as the Ice squeaked out a 3-2 win.
The focus for the Rivermen now shifts to the B.C. Bantam Tier One Provincial Championships in Nanaimo from March 19-22.
Four familiar foes will also be in that tournament, so the Yukon team has some idea of what to expect.
“We have a sense of what we’re getting into for provincials, which is exciting,” said Lawrie.
This was the first season for the league and Lawrie said it has been a positive for hockey in the Yukon.
“It was a great experience being involved in the league. Having five teams visit us and 15 home games was incredible,” said Lawrie. “The team was very competitive. We didn’t win as many games as we’d like, but again — I’ve been saying from the beginning of the year — it’s not really about wins and losses at this point. It’s about being competitive and being better for each weekend.”
While the provincial championships are the focus for the immediate future, Lawrie is optimistic for next season as well.
Four of the Rivermen’s regular roster will be eligible to return next season and a number of players on the AWG development team will also be eligible.
This season, only one player joined the team from Outside, spending the season living with billets. That number is also expected to grow.
Lawrie also said there are a number of quality peewee players in Whitehorse set to age up to bantam next fall.
“I think the team will be in good shape,” said Lawrie. “I expect us to be very competitive again and hopefully turn some of those close games into Ws.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com