The Atom Jr. Mustangs will be exhausted come Sunday evening.
The Whitehorse rep team is slated to play a lot of hockey as they host the Whitehorse International Atom Hockey Tournament this weekend at Takhini Arena.
It will be a small tournament but a busy one.
Wasilla, Alaska’s Mat-Su Eagles and the Fort Nelson Fury will be in town to compete for gold in the B.C. Hockey Association Tier 3-equivalent tourney.
The three teams will play a triple round-robin, with each squad playing six games, before the top two teams compete in the gold medal game on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. at Takhini Arena.
“From hearing people on the phone and listening to our committee, there’s as much excitement from the parents as the players, and these guys are just buzzing for this tournament,” said Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association president Carl Burgess.
The tournament marks the first Outside competition the Atom Mustangs will see so far this season and it won’t be easy.
The Wasilla Mat-Su Eagles is a “major atom” team, meaning the squad is predominately – if not entirely – made up of second-year atom players.
The Fort Nelson Fury is another tough squad. The Fury visited the Yukon last March and played a Whitehorse squad made up of players from all four teams in the atom division of the Whitehorse league, winning 14-0 and 15-2.
The next day the Fury played another mixed team, including players from last year’s Atom Mustangs, and won 8-2 and 13-2.
The Mustangs will have to remain focused and use the skills they’ve developed so far this season, said head coach Clint Mylymok.
“These are the things the kids live for, they all love playing tournaments,” said Mylymok. “The key is to make sure they’re all having fun but also make sure, when we’re on the bench, we’re focused on what we’ve been practising in team play and apply it to the game when needed.
“They’re young kids, so we’re not over inundating them with systems stuff. But we’re doing some basic things we think will be advantageous as a team.”
The action starts Friday at 5 p.m. at Takhini Arena as the Mustangs faceoff with the Eagles. Admission is free all weekend.
“At one point we had six teams – one from Juneau and two from Fairbanks – next to fully committed,” said Burgess. “But one thing we’ve learned is: though November isn’t early in the season for Whitehorse, it is for other leagues.”
“We’re certainly hoping we can start calling it the first annual,” he added.
Whitehorse Minor will take up hosting duties again next month for Hockey Day in Whitehorse and Mustangs Night Dec. 6-8.
Four Outside teams are looking to visit Whitehorse to compete against Mustangs teams from peewee to midget.
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