Down 4-0, the game half over, with a trophy on the line and the Atom Jr. Mustangs were only getting started.
The Whitehorse rep team scored five straight goals, to take five straight games, to win gold at the Richmond Minor Hockey Association’s Spring Tournament in B.C. on March 18.
The Mustangs won the Tier 2 tournament in a 5-4 win over the Victoria Racquet Club.
Rotten luck and a little over-confidence might have helped put them in the 4-0 predicament by midway through the second period.
“It’s one of those things where it didn’t matter how well prepared we were, everything went Victoria’s way for the first period,” said Mustangs head coach Patrice Brunet. “Pucks were squeezing by and finding holes. So it wasn’t necessarily that we had a terrible start.
“We might have been a little overly confident coming into the final, having won by this point four in a row.”
Whitehorse’s Joshua Schenk, Piper Fordham, Jayden Hardie and Sasha Jirousek eroded Victoria’s lead with goals. Fordham and Hardie also logged assists.
Mustangs’ Joey Shultz got the game-winner, burning down the wing and sending a screaming wrist shot upstairs for the win with three minutes in regulation.
There were plenty of ticks left in the clock at that point. With a Mustang in the box and Victoria’s goalie pulled, Whitehorse fought off a 6-on-4 attack for the final two minutes.
Cole Cowan went down to block a shot, helping Mustangs goalie Naoise Dempsey secure the win. Dempsey logged two shutouts in the tournament.
“They really turned it around in the second period and really came together as a team,” said Brunet. “Pulling together, supporting each other – and playing together, that’s the biggest thing. Leaving individual plays aside and doing what it took to win the game.
“Shooting everything at the net, crashing the net, finding the open man. It came down to not playing selfishly.”
Whitehorse punched their ticket for the final with a 2-0 win over Vancouver Minor, with goals from Landon Marsh and Huss Breithaupt, in the semifinal.
The Mustangs lost their first game of the tournament 4-1 to Victoria with a half-dozen Whitehorse shots hitting the post. Hardie scored off a pass from Hugo Burgess.
Then the win streak kicked in as Whitehorse went 3-2 over Vancouver with Fordham putting in two and Hardie racking up three assists.
Whitehorse then beat Richmond 3-1 with a Schultz goal and North Delta 5-0 with two goals from Joshua Schenk.
Richmond marked the third tournament win for the Atom Jr. Mustangs this season.
They first won the Whitehorse International Atom Hockey Tournament in front of the home crowd in November and then the Yukon Peewee Hockey Championships in Watson Lake in January.
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