Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Ron Areshenkoff, the bench boss for the 1993 Allan Cup-winning Whitehorse Huskies, died on Dec. 15. The Star was unable to confirm the cause of death. Areshenkoff was 62.
Areshenkoff was a former professional hockey player. He was drafted in the second round, 32nd overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1977 NHL Draft. He played four games in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers during the 1979-80 season.
After his stint with Edmonton, he finished the year with the Houston Apollos of the CHL. He ended his hockey career with the WIHL Trail Smoke Eaters.
Areshenkoff moved to Whitehorse in the late 1980s and worked for the City of Whitehorse.
The Allan Cup is awarded annually to the national senior amateur men's ice hockey champions of Canada. The cup only made the trip once to Whitehorse, in 1993, when the Huskies defeated the Quesnel Kangaroos, in Quesnel, B.C.
"My life is now fulfilled," Areshenkoff said in a quote to the Star in the April 20, 1993 edition of the paper. "I've been in a lot of battles for this thing and I know there's so many people that have fought for the Allan Cup… it's unbelievable."
Randy Merkel played on that Huskies team that brought the cup back to Whitehorse. When Areshenkoff moved to Estevan, Sask., he and Merkel kept in touch.
"It caught me off-guard," said Merkel. "We lost a good one. He was a hell of a guy."
Merkel spoke about what it was like to play for Areshenkoff.
"He was very sincere, very passionate," said Merkel. "He made a big difference to me. He put a lot of faith in me and got the best out of me.
"He was a good coach who wanted the most out of the guys. He had his pet peeves. He wouldn't let you dump the puck out front without looking first. He wasn't a screamer or a yeller. He was a mild-mannered type of guy.
"If he believed in you, he played you. It was a good run we had there."
Barry Blisner came to Whitehorse in '92. Although he was ineligible for the Allen Cup, Areshenkoff did coach him on the 1994 Arctic Winter Games men's team.
"He was a great guy," said Blisner. "He could be described as a players coach. He was a highly regarded hockey player.
"He was a great coach and I would hazard a guess that there wouldn't be a guy who didn't love him. When he got mad, he never held it against you."
Blisner said he was "in total shock" when he learned of Areshenkoff's passing because "he always kept himself in great shape."
The 1993 Allan Cup victory banner still hangs in the Takhini Arena.
"I see that banner and it still makes me chuckle," said Blisner. "He was one of those guys how you have a bunch of stories of but most aren't printable."
Both Blisner and Merkel agreed that winning a team championship bonds a team for a lifetime.
"We won the Allan Cup together," said Merkel. "When you win a championship you are bonded with these people for life."
There are only a handful of players left from that championship team still living in Whitehorse but Blisner and Merkel said there are talks about getting together for a beer in Areshenkoff's honour.
Blisner said he and Areshenkoff lost touch over the years but that he was "definitely one of those guys if you stopped in, he would welcome you with open arms."
Merkel did not know that he was sick.
"That's a testament to him," said Merkel.
Areshenkoff was born on June 13, 1957, in Grand Forks, B.C. He left Whitehorse for Estevan to become a financial planner.
"Whitehorse and Estevan were lucky to have him," said Blisner.
"He deserves to be recognized," said Merkel.
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