The Whitehorse Huskies had a very different experience at the Kelowna Heat Blast Spring Tournament this year than they had last year.
The atom development team that won the A division at the tournament last year, failed to pick up a win at the tournament in Kelowna, B.C., May 5-7.
It was a tougher row to hoe this year as tournament organizers decided to blend the A and AA divisions into one.
The Huskies, who were missing two of the team’s most prominent goal scorers and a defenceman, were coming off back to back bronze medal wins at their previous two tournaments.
“It was a great tournament, and every time we go out now we’re that close to being one of the top teams, we just fell short a little bit trying to finish games,” said Johnstone. “Hopefully we can teach that to the kids. But we were proud of them. A lot of them stepped up and played well when they had to.”
The Huskies went winless in five games — four round robin games followed by a consolation game.
They opened with a 6-2 loss to the Kelowna Red Heat.
Whitehorse then fell 3-2 to the Lethbridge Wolf Pack, with a pair of goals from Tyson Matthews.
Lethbridge, which logged the game-winner in the third period, went on to take gold.
“We were in every game until the end of the second or midway through the third period, except for one game,” said Johnstone. “We were missing a couple of players as well (and) we fell short in the third periods.”
The Huskies next lost 6-1 to the B.C. Spartans with Nash Holmes scoring for Whitehorse. The Huskies topped the Spartans in a Vancouver tournament a couple weeks earlier.
“It goes to show the competition is really tight and you have to be ready every game and play for three periods,” said Johnstone.
The Huskies finished the round robin with a 6-2 loss to the Kelowna White Heat with Kaelen Halowaty and Matthews scoring for Whitehorse.
After going into the third period of the consolation game tied 2-2 with goals from Matthews and Landon Cowper, the Huskies fell 6-2 to the Maple Ridge High Performance Wings.
“The kids learned we can’t take 10 minutes off or the score is going to go up by four or five goals,” said Johnstone.
The Whitehorse Huskies took bronze — playing up an age division — at the Whitehorse Peewee Invitational Hockey Tournament at the end of last month. The previous weekend they also won bronze in a tournament in Vancouver.
They will next travel to the Edmonton AAA Classic in the beginning of June.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org