After taking a string of losses on the weekend, the Atom Jr. Mustangs received a bit of good news: they were in the wrong division.
The Tier 3 Whitehorse rep team played the Tier 2 division in the Kelowna Classic Atom Development Tournament over the weekend in B.C.
“We thought we were in a Tier 3 division and then at the end of the weekend when we played our fourth and final game … (a couch from Kelowna) said they play solid Tier 2 all season long,” said Mustangs head coach Trevor Matthews. “That’s when we found out we were in a Tier 2 division … again.”
It’s not the first time the Mustangs took on a Tier 2 challenge. At the very start of the season they went winless at the Seafair International Ice Breaker Rep Tournament, getting outscored 46-10 over five games.
This past weekend they narrowed the gap to 34-14 over four games.
“If we compare that Tier 2 tournament to the one in Richmond, our kids have definitely made huge gains as a team and they’re playing great,” said Matthews. “Once we told them they we were not in a Tier 3, we were in a Tier 2, it brought their spirits back up, knowing they competed well in that Tier 2 division.”
The Mustangs opened with their closest contest in Kelowna, losing 4-3 to the Kelowna Junior Spartans on Friday. Whitehorse was down 4-1 and pulled to within one but couldn’t get that tying goal in.
“The momentum was our way with two and a half minutes left or so, we just couldn’t pop in that tying goal,” said Matthews. “Had there been a few more minutes on the clock, I’m sure we would have.”
The Mustangs lost 13-1 to the Penticton Junior Vees Saturday morning and 8-2 to the Vernon Vipers Saturday evening.
They got a rematch with the Spartans Sunday in the playoff, but dropped the game 9-6.
“We’re running three lines and every line is getting goals for us,” said Matthews.
The Atom Mustangs will close out the season with a return to Richmond in March. Team staff are taking measures to make sure they are slotted in the correct division this time around.
“It’s good to know the kids can compete in that level, to a degree,” said Matthews. “But it’s also mid-year and you want to be seeded in the right division so you can also get some wins. Kids this age need those wins for their confidence.”
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