The Female Mustangs hockey team may be based out of Whitehorse, but the team of 21 players between the ages of 10 and 17 come from across the territory to play the sport – and so the team decided to make it a little easier for some of these players this past weekend on a team trip to Dawson City.
Four players from Dawson are on the team, first-year team manager Marlaine Anderson-Lindsay said, and they make the six to eight hour trek down every weekend for practices and games in Whitehorse.
“We decided that because we had such a large contingent from Dawson it only made sense to understand reality and spend some time in their community,” she said. “It was an opportunity for the team to carpool all the way to Dawson, stay over night, practise and play games.”
It was the first trip of the year for the team with several new players as well as new coaching personnel led by head coach Candice MacEachen who was previously an assistant coach for three seasons. The team stayed in the Robert
Service School for the weekend, Anderson-Lindsay said, and were welcomed with open arms on the team’s first-ever trip to Dawson.
“The folks that we played against paid for our ice time, they had the girls stay in the gym at Robert Service School,” she said.
This is a growth year for the team with many new players this year, MacEachen said, after lower numbers last season.
“It’s a developmental year trying to build the female program,” she said.
“Helping to develop younger players leading into the Arctic Winter Games.”
MacEachen will be the coach of the female team open to any player born in 1999 or later with the trials set for Dec. 22-23. The team currently plays in the bantam division of the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association house league and have practices and dryland training Friday and Saturday.
In Dawson, Anderson-Lindsay said the team played three games, firstly against a peewee/bantam team and then an impromptu unscheduled game against a Dawson old-timers team, which allowed a Mustangs player to skate against her dad and brother. Their third and final game was against the Dawson women’s hockey team.
But perhaps the most rewarding experience for the team was an unexpected extra ice time with the Dawson girl’s hockey program from novice to atom ages allowing the Mustangs to skate with the young players and work on drills.
“We did that for about an hour and what we noticed is some of the girls in the program were wearing equipment too big for them,” Anderson-Lindsay said.
The team decided to see what they could do about that and hope to provide some more equipment from Whitehorse.
“We’ve talked to the person who runs the program about an equipment drive for them down here,” Anderson-Lindsay said.
Following the team-bonding trip, they will be looking towards the Games trials at the end of the month as well as a tournament in Surrey, B.C. in February. The team will also be competing in the bantam division of the Yukon Championships at the end of January. The Mustangs are also looking into other community visits after the success of the Dawson trip, Anderson-Lindsay said, with Haines Junction the next spot in mind.
The team recently received a major name sponsor from Schmidt Mining Corp. from Dawson, which is run by Stuart Schmidt, a grandfather of one of the Mustangs players.
“It’s almost startling,” said Anderson-Lindsay noting the team is in conversations for other sponsorship offers including individual players receiving sponsorships.
The sponsorship will help alleviate major travel costs for the team and lower the financial burden on the families, MacEachen said.
“It’s great especially where it is a grandfather to one of the four players from Dawson. It will definitely help out a lot with travelling and cost of the Mustangs program, she said. “It takes off some pressure from families because the money will go towards the team.”