The Yellowknife Flyers and Hay River Huskies are set to renew hostilities this weekend in the latest installment of the Northern Hockey Challenge.
The Huskies will host three games at the Don Stewart Arena between Friday and Sunday.
Tournament organizers say Yellowknife will host three games sometime later this year.
The two senior men’s clubs split a six-game series last year with each team winning twice, losing twice and tying twice.
Flyers goaltender Jeff Bowden said the teams even had identical goal differential tallies.
“You really couldn’t ask for two more evenly matched teams,” Bowden told Moose FM.
Despite how close the teams were last year, Bowden knows his club will be in for some stiff competition.
“Anytime we go to Hay River the stands are packed. You couldn’t ask for a better hockey community than Hay River. The whole town just sort of gravitates towards the rink so we’re hoping for the same turnout when the dates are announced for games in Yellowknife.
“The benches are essentially inside the stands so you’ll have people yelling over the benches at you. It’s a little more intense than in Yellowknife when you’re separated from the crowd but it’s a great weekend.”
Flyers Defenceman Ryan Nichols, a native of Nova Scotia, says it will be important for his club to take control right from the opening face-off.
“Obviously we’re going into the weekend trying to win all three games but they have a competitive group in Hay River. We’re expecting three good games.
“They pack the barn every time we’re there and obviously they’re cheering for their Huskies. We like to quiet the crowd early and try to take any momentum they get from their fans and try to sustain it.”
The Flyers will get a chance to host their hockey rivals once ice times can be worked out.
“I can predict and I can guarantee that it’s going to be a great series,” Bowden said.
“There will be a lot of big hits, a lot of great goals and a lot of great saves on both ends. It’s going to be a good weekend for the fans and for the whole community.”
@1001MooseFMCJCD Hay River! AGAIN! Go Huskies Go.
— Andrew Cassidy (@AndrewRCassidy) January 23, 2015
— Mark Heyck (@MarkHeyck) January 23, 2015