In their final road trip of the season, the Whitehorse atom Mustangs rode right over their competition.
Severely outmatching their competition, the Mustangs went undefeated over five games en route to a gold in Tier 3 of the Fifth annual Victoria Ice Hawks Atom Development Tournament in Victoria, BC, over the weekend.
“Unfortunately the organizers didn’t do their homework and put us in a division we really shouldn’t have been in,” said Mustangs head coach Mike L’Henaff. “(We should have been in) Tier 2, at least. We played Victoria, the host team, on Thursday (in an exhibition game) when we first got there, and we beat them pretty handily. They ended up in second place in the Tier 2 of the tournament.”
The Mustangs, who outscored the competition 56-4, captured the gold with a 11-0 shutout win over the Ridge Meadows Rustlers in the final.
Mustangs forward Lukas Jirousek, who totalled an outstanding 33 points at the tournament, had a six-point game with five goals. Teammate Cruz Goodman came out with one goal and two assists, Bryce Anderson with two goals and one assist.
Also scoring were Payton Fobe, Issac Williamson and Wyatt Peterson.
“We made the best of it, there wasn’t much else we could do,” said L’Henaff. “The boys handled themselves very well; there was no gloating or braggarts. We were very low in the penalty minutes as well, which is nice because sometimes when you have a team running up the score, the penalties can get kind of crazy.”
To reach the final the Mustangs trotted off with an 8-0 semifinal win over Cowichan Valley. In the game, Jirousek had two goals and four assists, while Goodman had three of each for six points, plus Joe Stokes had two goals and Anderson had one goal and two assists.
“They should have been in the finals,” said L’Henaff. “They were a better team.”
In the round-robin, the Mustangs went 12-2 over Cowichan Valley, 11-0 over Ridge Meadows Rustlers and opened the tournament in a 14-2 over the Port Moody Panthers – with Jirousek having an eight-point game.
In fact, Jirousek and a few teammates reached milestones at the tournament. In Victoria, Jirousek scored his 100th goal of the season, Stokes his 50th, Goodman his 40th and Fobe, Dylan Cozens and Anderson all scored their 30th.
“He’s a big strong kid – he just takes over games when he wants,” said L’Henaff of Jirousek. “He could play at any level – all those six kids will allow us to compete at the top level of any atom tournament because of their skills set.
“And our two goalies (Campbell Burdenie and Ethan Vanderkley) were the strongest goalies in the tournament. Even though they didn’t get challenged too much in the games we played, when they were required to make a big save, they made them.”
In their other road trips this season, the atoms Mustangs reached the semifinal of the Dawson Creek Atom Development Tournament in November. They then won bronze at the 33rd annual Lloyd Head Atom Tournament in January in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
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