The Aldergrove Bruins A1 midget team left Whitehorse with one win and two losses, thanks to a comeback effort by the Cinderwood Midget Mustangs.
After taking a 7-3 loss to the visiting Bruins on Friday, the Tier 3 Whitehorse rep team rallied to win the series with a 4-1 victory Saturday and a 4-2 win Sunday. The three-game series took place at Takhini Arena.
“It was really fun because we got to do it in front of the home crowd,” said Mustangs captain Mike Hare. “After losing the first game we wanted to come back and show we can play with these guys. So winning it was really special.”
“It was a great job for us,” said Mustangs assistant captain Tyler Wiens. “All the boys worked hard, tried hard and we didn’t give up at all. We pushed hard every shift and when we had our chances, we buried them for the most part. And that’s what we need to do to move forward in the Arctic (Games) and provincials.”
The opening minutes dictated the outcome of the first two games. The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead after seven minutes of play on Friday. The Mustangs then responded with three goals in the first two minutes of Saturday’s game to go up 3-0.
“We didn’t want to go down like we did last time – it’s not good in front of the home crowd,” said Wiens of Game 2. “We decided to come out hard, push hard, take the body early and just get on them quick. It seemed to work for us.”
“I think it shows we can bounce back after anything,” said Mustangs goalie Patrick Soprovich, who was named Player of the Game on Saturday. “I’m proud of the guys. It was embarrassing to come out after the first game, but we never lost heart … we were fighting the whole time to make sure we won the series.”
The Bruins are a Tier 2, B.C. team that finished the regular season in third place in the Pacific Coast Minor Hockey League. The Aldergrove team also just knocked out Burnaby, B.C., in the second round of the playoffs to advance into the third.
With 16 Mustangs players on the Yukon’s midget male team for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, the main purpose of the series was to prepare the Whitehorse players for playing in front of a home crowd at the Games in two weeks.
“We were nervous. That’s why we brought this team up. We had to get used to playing at home, and it showed,” said Mustangs head coach Jay Glass, who is also coaching Team Yukon. “They were a tough team so we’re proud of our performance and the result overall.”
The Mustangs scored three first-period goals in Sunday’s deciding game. Wiens, who was named Player of the Game, scored the first two and Hare the next two. Soprovich was in net for both wins.
“Our goalie Patrick Soprovich played unreal,” said Wiens. “He kept us in the game in the second period of (Saturday’s) game and part of (Sunday’s) game too. He played outstanding.”
Breaking open Game 2 in the opening minutes were Mike Arnold, Brayden Kulych, who also got an assist, and Bradley Koprowsky. Captain Hare scored the final goal.
“They came out harder the first game and we came out harder in the second game – the first few minutes decided the whole game,” said Hare, who was given the team’s Horse Award for the grittiest effort.
Scoring for the Mustangs on Friday were Wiens, Arnold and Mike Skookum. Arnold, who assisted both of his teammates’ goals, was named Player of the Game.
The Cinderwood Mustangs reached the semifinal at the Lethbridge Midget AA Tournament in Alberta at the start of the month.
Before the tournament, the Mustangs played an exhibition game against the Calgary Foothills Bisons in Calgary, blanking the home team 3-0.
Competing at the Richmond International Midget Hockey Tournament over the Christmas holidays, the Mustangs defeated teams from California and Las Vegas to reach the semifinal and finish third out of 20 Tier 2 teams.
In their first tournament of the season, the Mustangs dominated the competition to win the Abbotsford Midget Memorial 2011 Tournament in November.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com