Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for November 28, 2012

Dawson hockey legend prepares to enter hall of fame

Looking back at an astounding sports career is a humbling experience for Dawson City-native John Flynn.

By Marcel Vander Wier on November 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

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Photo submitted

BIG WEEK – Dawson City’s John Flynn will enter the Yukon Sport Hall of Fame on Thursday. In this 2005 photo, Flynn carries hockey’s holy grail into his home during while wearing his Dawson City Nuggets jersey.

Looking back at an astounding sports career is a humbling experience for Dawson City-native John Flynn.

The 57-year-old gold miner will be the lone inductee into the Yukon Sport Hall of Fame tomorrow night, in his first year on the ballot.

The induction is the highlight of many awards planned at Sport Yukon’s Annual Awards Night, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Whitehorse Westmark.

“I’m very excited and honoured to be inducted into the sports hall of fame,” Flynn said this week. “I’m quite pleased. It’s hard to put into words.”

Flynn is a long-time minor hockey coach, and may be best known for spearheading the 1997 Dawson City Nuggets re-enactment of the original 1905 challenge for the Stanley Cup.

He also had an impressive run as a snowshoe biathlon athlete, winning 13 Arctic Winter Games medals over a 15-year span. Nine were golds.

Flynn grew up an athlete.

“Sports actually saved my bacon a few times,” he told the Star. “I was shipped out to Vancouver in the late ‘60s to go to school, Grade 9 I think it was, and it was the first time I’d ever flown on a plane and been Outside. I ended up at a big school, about 3,000 kids. But I was very good with sports, so it didn’t take me long to find friends and blend in. If I didn’t have sports, I don’t think I would have survived.”

The sporting memory that stands out to him most is the first Yukon Native Hockey Tournament he played in, which his team won.

“That always kind of stands out in my mind,” he said. “I can remember the games, the last game, the overtime winning goal against the Whitehorse Warriors. I didn’t score it, but I was on the ice, and I did score a few goals to get us there. I can remember it was so much fun, and the Jim Light Arena was absolutely packed.

People were screaming and yelling. It was pretty exciting back then.”

Flynn went on to win three separate scoring titles at the tournament in 1977, 1978 and 1982, cementing his name in the territory’s history books.

At one point, Flynn netted a natural hat trick within a two-minute span – while his team was on the penalty kill.

Flynn still plays oldtimer hockey in a four-team league Dawson City.

He no longer snowshoes, however.

“I really enjoyed the Arctic Winter Games,” Flynn said of snowshoe biathlon. “It was a really tough sport and I kind of thrived on that. The shooting aspect, the running with snowshoes, and carrying that heavy rifle on your back all the time, it was a challenge.”

Flynn said he entered the individual sport because team sports were hard to break into at the time.

In 1984 and 1986, he was named Athlete of the Year by the Yukon Snowshoeing Association.

In 1988, he was presented a Certificate of Merit by MP Audrey McLaughlin for his contributions and volunteer hours spent coaching hockey in Dawson City.

Then there’s the Dawson City Nuggets-Ottawa Senators re-enactment. The Nuggets challenged the reigning champion Senators for the Stanley Cup in January 1905. The Senators handed the Nuggets the most lopsided defeat in Stanley Cup history.

Flynn helped organize a re-enactment of that event in 1997.

“That was basically the high point,” Flynn said of his career.

The idea of the re-enactment was actually sparked by a broken nose.

After an errant high stick clipped Flynn in an oldtimer game, he flew down to Whitehorse for surgery. He ended up sitting beside Pat Hogan on the plane ride to the capital, and a simple conversation sparked the historic event organized by the two.

Alongside hockey and snowshoe biathlon, Flynn was also a marathon runner, organizing and running 11 Klondike Road Relay teams from 1987 to 2000.

Sport Yukon executive director Tracey Bilsky said Flynn will enter the hall of fame as both an athlete and a builder.

“It was pretty equal,” Bilsky said of the weight his hockey and snowshoe biathlon career played in his induction. “When it came to hockey, it was more so as a coach.

When it came to snowshoe biathlon, it was weighted in the area of athlete and builder of the sport itself. He was also instrumental in the whole Nuggets-Senators re-enactment, which is a pretty cool story.

“As a first-time nominee, to be inducted is pretty special.”

Both Flynn’s family and Dawson City’s recreation department submitted Flynn’s name to the six-member hall of fame committee.

Once a submission has been made, it is considered for the next five years. The last time more than one person has been inducted is 2004.

Winners of other Sport Yukon Major Awards will also be announced Thursday.

Nominees for this year’s major awards are listed below:

National/Territorial Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Peters, cross country skiing; Mary Anne Myers, swimming; and Kendra Murray, orienteering.

National/Territorial Male Athlete of the Year: Fabian Brook, cross country skiing; Trevor Bray, orienteering; and Nicholas Rittel, shooting.

International Female Athlete of the Year: Dahria Beatty, cross country skiing; Janelle Greer, cross country skiing; Emily Nishikawa, cross country skiing; and MacKenzie Downing, swimming.

International Male Athlete of the Year: David Greer, cross country skiing; Knute Johnsgaard, cross country skiing; Thomas Scoffin, curling; and Zach Bell, cycling.

Coach of the Year: Darren Kinvig, dog mushing; Russ Tait, volleyball; and Sarah Crane, basketball.

Administrator of the Year: Lynda Harlow, Yukon Freestyle Ski Association; and John Grant, Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association.

Team of the Year: Men’s AWG basketball team; Junior Women’s AWG soccer team; and the Men’s U-19 volleyball team.

Zach Bell and George Arcand will also be presented with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals.

CommentsAdd a comment

margie and pete

Nov 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Bravo John! Well deserved!

Brian Langevin

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Congratulations John.
A role model for our youth, hold your head high!

darren taylor

Dec 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm

There was a reason why we called him “Ace”, congratulations John.

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