Whitehorse Daily Star

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Coach Martin Lawrie

Yukon Rivermen preparing for inaugural season

The Yukon Rivermen roster continues to grow ahead of the start of the team’s inaugural season.

By Marissa Tiel on September 13, 2017

The Yukon Rivermen roster continues to grow ahead of the start of the team’s inaugural season.

So far a dozen boys have been named to the Tier 1 Bantam team for the 2017/18 season.

The team has been rolling out commitments on its Facebook page with the most recent announcement, forward Orion Cruikshank, being named on Sept. 7.

He joins forwards Errol Ekholm, Cole Cowan, Joey Schultz, Ashton Underhill and Landon Marsh on the roster.

Owen Palfreyman, Connor Cozens, Sasha Jirousek, Connor Cooper and Se McMenamin are the defensemen named so far, while Dawson Smith is the goalie.

Coach Martin Lawrie said practices are in full swing and things are going well.

“The kids are practising,” he said. “We have about half the team named at this point.”

Tryouts for the team were held on Aug. 5 and 6 and after this weekend the final selections will be made. The team is attending the John Ferguson Memorial Tournament in Edmonton on Sept. 14. A big roster is heading down and Lawrie has to have his final selections in to BC Hockey on Sept. 30.

By extending the evaluation period, Lawrie is able to get a better sense of the player as an individual and how they would fit into the team.

The Rivermen is drawing on youth talent from across Yukon, the North and northern B.C.

Lawrie said he wants to make sure that the team can play at a AAA level.

“This is a significant jump for us,” he said.

The last time there was a comparative team in the Yukon was likely the Junior B Claim Jumpers which was active in the late 90s and early 2000s.

The Rivermen are part of a BC Hockey zone pilot league, which will include eight Bantam and Midget teams from B.C. and the Yukon.

“I’m excited about it,” said Lawrie. “The kids are looking forward to playing some home games in Whitehorse and playing in an actual league.”

The team will be a great opportunity for players who have aspirations of playing in higher leagues down the road.

“A big piece of it is exposure to the different higher programs,” said Lawrie.

They’ll be seen by coaches and scouts who may not normally see them play in the Yukon.

Going to camps in the future, the players will be a known commodity instead of a new face.

“It’s nice when they’ve seen you before,” said Lawrie. “This is an opportunity to ensure they get that exposure.”

The program is being built like a sport school, he said. The team will be on the ice every day.

“It’s built to build them as hockey players,” he said.

The team is made up of 14-year-olds and Lawrie said “it’s a fairly important year in the hockey world.”

The team’s game schedule has not been released by BC Hockey.

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