The Yukon Peewee Mustangs went from squad to team over the weekend.
After going winless at a B.C. two weeks prior, the Mustangs pocketed three wins for silver in the peewee division of the Whitehorse International Showdown over the weekend.
They won games as a team because they played as a team, said head coach Trevor Matthews.
“This weekend seemed to be a turning point for them where they really started to act like a team, on the ice and off the ice,” said Matthews. “Going into the games you could look around the room and see the focus in the players’ eyes. You could see they were thinking about the game finally. And it just came together on the ice. They played really well together.
“You could see some good hockey players and good hockey goals, instead of one guy taking it up the ice and scoring a goal. The goals came together from all five guys on the ice.”
Not only did the Mustangs win three out of four games for silver in the three-team round robin, they came within a goal of taking gold.
They placed behind gold-winning Yellowknife Wolfpack (3-1) through counting goals for and against.
“Had we scored one more goal, or had one less goal scored against us, then we would have taken first,” said Matthews.
The Mustangs lost 8-4 to the Wolfpack Friday before beating them 8-5 Saturday.
In the first encounter forward Joey Schultz had two goals and an assist and teammates Nolan Matthews and Ashton Underhill also scored. In Saturday’s win forwards Landon Marsh and Ty Beacon both racked up two goals and an assist, Underhill had two goals and Nolan registered a goal with two assists.
The Mustangs had also fallen to the Wolfpack in the tournament in B.C. two weeks earlier.
“We competed with them well for the whole game (on Saturday). But for the previous two games there was always a five- or 10-minute part of the game where we ... got away from our game plan, and they end up hammering two or three really quick goals,” said Trevor. “For the third game we went into and won, we told them ... they have to stay focused for the full 60 minutes of game play. And they did.
“When they keep their head in it, it goes to show what they can do.”
The Yukon rep team also defeated the Wasilla-Mat’su Eagles 6-4 on Friday and 13-3 on Saturday, helping deal the Alaska team a third-place finish.
Connor Cozens, Sasa Jirousek and Sawyer Adams each had a goal and assist Friday. Underhill had a huge game Saturday with five goals and an assist while Beacon added two goals and two assists.
“When we come away with wins it’s because the whole team is working together,” said Trevor. “We were getting scoring from all three lines, all three lines defensively were strong. It took all 17 guys on our roster to play hard here and that’s exactly what they did.”
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