The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs left their opponents in the dust in their first game of the BC Hockey Championships in Terrace, drubbing the Semiahmoo Ravens 12-1.
Even with 47 penalty minutes, the Mustangs easily dismissed their opponents with goals to spare. The top-producing line of Bryce Anderson, Wyatt Peterson, and Joe Stokes was dominant, with Stokes pouring in three goals and assisting on two others.
“That line was too much for Semiahmoo to handle,” head coach Martin Lawrie said on Monday. “(The) boys were skating well. They had trouble with the speed of our forwards for sure.”
A tougher challenge came with the Mustang’s second game when they faced Dawson Creek. After a scoreless first period Payton Fobe tallied a goal in the second. Dawson Creek battled hard to try to find an equalizer. “They were coming on and had a pretty good third period. Guys were hanging on… They had us hemmed in at certain times for longer than I’m comfortable with,” Lawrie said. An empty-net goal in the final minute relieved the pressure to help the Mustangs hold on for the 2-0 win.
Even with a perfect record at the tournament so far, Lawrie found areas for the team to improve. “A big thing for us is we need to clean up our defensive zone coverage. We just didn’t react well to a heavy forecheck from Dawson Creek.”
The tier-three Bantam tournament is being held in Port Hardy, and concludes Wednesday. Even though the chances of making it out of the round robin stage are high, Lawrie knows his team needs to stay focused. “This isn’t a very forgiving format. One loss can keep you out of the playoffs. Ties can hurt you. We need to win.”
In the Peewee tournament the Mustangs are still finding their legs, having lost their first game against Arbutus Club 5-1 and tying the second versus Quesnel 6-6. The third game, played Tuesday morning, saw the Mustangs drop 6-2 to South Okanagan.
Goalie Dawson Smith played outstanding against Quesnel, said head coach Kirk Gale, and Kyron Crosby had a hat trick to help put the Mustangs ahead 6-2 in the third period.
However, late-game heroics by Quesnel coupled with penalty trouble and a few unlucky bounces shifted momentum against Whitehorse.
“We were flying all over them and then kind of just dropped off,” said Gale. Playing just 40 minutes of good hockey isn’t enough to win at this tournament, and it’s the final 20 that Whitehorse would like back. “It’s something that they knew they should have won,” Gale said of Whitehorse letting up in the third. “Really some bad luck. But you know what, the kids had enough. They were up by four goals, they should have been able to pull out a win, but that’s the way it rolls.”
The scores shouldn’t imply how well this team can play, and the teams are more evenly matched than what the win column shows, Gale insists. A flu bug has been sapping the team’s energy for the last few days, which Gale said contributed to the final scores.
“We’re right in there. Even that 5-1 game yesterday wasn’t a real indication.”
The final game for the Mustangs was on Tuesday evening, after the News’ deadline.
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