Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

END OF AN ERA — The Whitehorse Huskies Senior AA team announced this morning they will not be defending their 2017 Coy Cup championship after losing 13 players and not able to recruit enough quality players to fill the vacant spots on the team.

Huskies will not return to defend Coy Cup

The Whitehorse Huskies will not be defending their Coy Cup title this season, not having enough personnel to ice a team.

By Dustin Cook on October 31, 2017

The Whitehorse Huskies will not be defending their Coy Cup title this season, not having enough personnel to ice a team.

The Senior AA team that competed in the B.C senior hockey league for the last three seasons lost roughly 13 players from last year’s roster, team president and general manager Dan Johnson said in an interview this morning.

“We didn’t really foresee player recruitment being an issue year over year, but with 10-plus players saying they’re not available for this year we realized this is a very unique age group,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of stuff happening in people’s lives and priorities switch pretty quickly.”

The Huskies held open tryouts for the team, making frequent announcements on their Facebook page, but Johnson said they were unable to find the talent and skill to form a high-quality team similar to last season.

“The personnel we had and were seeing on the ice for the initial beginnings of the season, we didn’t think that it was a match with what we had put forth last year,” he said.

Winning the Coy Cup on home ice in April was a massive accomplishment for the team, Johnson said, and the core group of players worked very hard towards that goal.

After the championship win, Johnson said the board of directors discussed if they were going to continue and they decided to give it another try for the kids and the fans.

People planned their Fridays and Saturdays to come to the games, Johnson said, noting he has two young kids who were big Huskies fans and it was difficult to tell them there wouldn’t be a team this year.

Leaving the league doesn’t have anything to do with financial sustainability and they had the sponsors and funding required for the upcoming season, Johnson said.

“I want to make clear there was no financial or stability reasons for this, we were financially viable in the black, full sponsorship behind us again. Everything was all systems go,” he added.

Johnson said the Huskies program helped prove competitive hockey is viable in Whitehorse and now it’s up to determining what type of hockey is the best option out of Takhini Arena.

“Is it junior hockey? Is it senior hockey? What matches that venue, looking at this more towards a junior hockey program with more stability in terms of player personnel,” he said.

The decision to not ice a team this season was made as a collective Johnson said, between the board, coaching staff and the players who were going to return.

Johnson said captain Evan Campbell called him last week to discuss the situation and as much as he wanted to play, he agreed the team wasn’t in a good spot.

“There’s still a core group of guys with the fire and passion to do this but they can’t do it on their own,” Johnson said. “For these guys, the clock had struck.”

Huskies players from the championship team who were not able to return include Ted Stephens, Adam Henderson, Derek Klassen, Jared Tuton and Rob Warner.

Between the ages of 20-30, many of the players had other important priorities Johnson noted, with some moving out of the Yukon and others facing new work and life commitments.

But Johnson said this does not take away from the team’s three years leading up to the historic success in winning the 2017 Coy Cup.

The team won a hard-fought battle 7-4 in front of a packed Takhini Arena against the Kelowna Sparta. In the 2016-17 season, the team won 10 games, losing only three.

It isn’t out of the question for the team to return after a season hiatus or a few years down the road, Johnson said, as they proved a competitive hockey program can be sustained.

“We’ve answered the whole operational question, well how does this look, that was always the question,” he said.

The Huskies program dates back to 1992 when the team was founded as a AAA senior team winning the national championship Allan Cup in 1993 before folding the following season.

They returned in 2009 after a 16-year absence again playing AAA before moving to the AA league for the 2014-15 season.

With many revivals throughout the years, Johnson said a future return is “always a possibility.”

The 2017 Coy Cup victory will always remain a big moment for the players and the city, whether or not there’s a team on the ice.

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.