The jump from house league to a Tier 2 tournament isn’t a small one, but the Atom Mustangs pulled it off with a pair of wins over the weekend.
The Mustangs went 2-2 for sixth place out of 12 teams at the Salmon Arm Tier 2 Atom Development Tournament in B.C.
“I think our team learned a lot this weekend, being some of our kids’ first tournament of this calibre it really shows we are on the right track,” said Mustangs coach Derek Johnstone.
“If we play as a team like we can, then we are successful. The final game against Penticton, the players showed this and I think they felt like we are better than our record showed.”
The Whitehorse atom development team finished their first tournament of the season with a 7-2 win over the Penticton Junior Vees in the sixth/seventh place game on Sunday.
Tied 2-2 after two periods, the Mustangs took the win with five unanswered goals in the third period.
“Sunday morning showed a different team, our Whitehorse Atom Mustangs played tough while showing discipline and really made us proud how they bounced back after two losses in a row,” said Johnstone. “This game could have went either way but we showed that our team can compete at this level.”
Jase Johnstone and Jaxon Tentrees each scored in the first. Chayce Tuton knocked in the game winner (unassisted) midway through the third. Conner Labar and Jase Johnstone added two more before Gavin Mckenna scored the last two to log a four-point game.
“This game was probably the roughest with all players showing discipline and sportsmanship,” said Derek.
“(Goalie) Taylor Bierlmeir finished strong in this game with some key saves down low,” he added. “Bierlmeir played all four games for our team in net.”
Whitehorse opened the tournament with a 10-3 win over the hosting Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The line of Johnstone, Mckenna and Nash Holmes posted a 15-point game with six goals and an assist from Mckenna.
Mckenna was again a team leader in a 14-4 loss to the Coquitlam Chiefs in the second game, scoring all of the Mustangs goals. Tuton, Jase Johnstone, Holmes and Keaton Mcintosh registered assists.
“A long day in Salmon Arm seemed to take our teams legs/energy level away and our team could not find a way to stop the relentless attack by Coquitlam,” said Derek.
The Mustangs finished the round robin with an 8-2 loss to the Prince George North Stars. Whitehorse took a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal from Zack Seguin with assists from Labar and Noah Kinney. The Mustangs failed to capitalize on five power play opportunities in the second period but Mckenna put his team on the board with an unassisted goal.
“I think this tournament will only make us stronger, with the kids knowing what we need to work on,” said Derek Johnstone. “I think they will be ready for our next tournament in February in Squamish.”
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