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Bantam Mustangs send Tier 1 teams reeling on road trip

The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs is a Tier 3 hockey team, by name only. At least, that's the way it seems.

The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs is a Tier 3 hockey team, by name only.

At least, that’s the way it seems.

The bantam rep team continued their on-ice dominance last week on Vancouver Island, this time against Tier 1 squads in a five-game road trip.

The Mustangs, who have already won Tier 2 and Tier 3 tournaments this season, went 4-1 against four Tier 1 teams in exhibition games.

Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie was “very happy” with his team’s performance.

“We weren’t too sure what to expect,” said Lawrie. “We were moving up in calibre for sure. Coming off with four wins against Tier 1 teams is pretty impressive.”

“It was a little surprising,” he added. “We knew we’d be in some pretty good hockey games down there and we lucky enough to come out on top in most of them.”

On the roadtrip that began last Thursday and finished Sunday, the Mustangs went 3-1 over the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies, 4-3 over the Shawnigan Stag, 9-4 over the Comox Valley Chiefs and 5-2 over the Stag in a second meeting.

The one blemish to Whitehorse’s record was a 3-0 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers on Friday. However, the Mustangs defeated the Clippers’ Tier 2 team at the start of the season in Richmond.

The wins might be the Whitehorse club’s first wins over Tier 1 teams since the Midget Mustangs beat Tier 1 teams leading up to the 2007 Canada Winter Games, one source told the News.

“Based on what I’ve seen out there and the results that the other Tier 3 organizations are having, I think we’re definitely going to be one of the teams to pay attention to come provincials,” said Lawrie.

The Mustangs downed the Grizzlies with goals from forwards Bryce Anderson, Isaac Williamson and Lochlan Fraser, while captain Joe Stokes helped with two assists.

Whitehorse defeated the Shawnigan Stag - a private school team from Shawnigan Lakes School - with a third-period game-winner from forward Dylan Cozens. Anderson had two assists and one goal and Stokes reversed that with two goals and one assist. Kailem Letto, Niall Lawrie and Wyatt Peterson had assists in the close game.

In the 9-4 thumping of the Chiefs, Cozens led the way with four goals while Stokes had four assists. Anderson racked up four points with two goals. Forward Johnny Elias had two assists while teammates Payton Fobe, Fraser and Dylan Kindervater contributed individual goals.

Cozens was again a sharpshooter in the second win over the Stag, with two goals and an assist. Stokes also put in two and Peterson one.

Anderson, Fraser and Mackenzie Benn-Wipp logged assists.

“We had the usual suspects with Anderson, Cozens and Stokes playing strong for us,” said Martin. “Mackenzie Benn-Whipp, this was his first experience at this level and he played well for us. And Ethan Vanderkley in net, was really strong.”

The Bantam Mustangs went undefeated to capture gold at the 12th annual Seafair International Ice Breaker Rep Tournament - a Tier 2 tournament - in October.

They then won five straight for gold at the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association’s International Fall Showdown - a Tier 3 tournament - in November.

“I was really happy with how the guys performed and happy about the results,” said Martin. “I continue to be quite encouraged, looking down the road to provincials.”

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