It took a couple games for results to materialize, but the Whitehorse Female Midget Mustangs reached full gallop at the second annual Wickenheiser Hockey Festival tournament in Burnaby, BC, over the weekend.
Playing in their first tournament of the season – and their first ever as part of Whitehorse’s representative hockey club – the Mustangs went 2-2 to capture fourth, bouncing back from opening with a pair of losses.
“(It was) very good. We could have won the whole thing, even though we lost one game 4-0,” said Mustangs head coach Louis Bouchard. “We can play at that level. That tournament could have gone our way at any second.”
“I think we played pretty well,” said Mustangs captain Dana van Vliet. “In the first game, we were a little bit flatfooted, but it was our first tournament of the year and we picked it up after that. It was good.”
The Mustangs opened the Tier 2 tournament with a 2-0 loss to South Vancouver Island Royals, who went on to win the tournament.
“We just came out a little flat in the first period, got a lot of penalties and were struggling to get back in the game,” said Bouchard.
The Whitehorse crew then took a 4-0 loss against the Langley Lightning. Though losing, that’s when the Mustangs started to click.
“The second game we ended up playing a very hot goalie,” said Bouchard. “We must have spent 90 per cent of the time in their zone, but we just couldn’t get one past their goalie.
“The 4-0 loss was probably our best game. We dominated the other team, but we just couldn’t break their goalie.”
“We played really well that game,” said van Vliet, who lives in Haines Junction. “Their goalie was really good and kept them in there. It was a fun game though – we worked really well.”
Firing on all pistons, the Mustangs then sped off with a 6-2 win over the Vancouver Angels, scoring back-to-back shorthanded goals in one shift – first down two players and then down by one. Scoring for the Mustangs were Linsey Eby, van Vliet, Ashtyn Sandulak, Madison Logan, Natalja Blanchard and Mikaila Blanchard from Dawson. Getting assists were Haines Junction’s Sierra Oakley, Dawson’s Christina McIntyre and Blanchard.
Whitehorse then wrapped up the tourney with a 4-1 win over the North Shore Winter Hawks with goals from Oakley, Chyanne Spenner and Lynsey Keaton, the opening games’ MVP for the Mustangs who earned special mention from her coach. (Keaton was on Yukon’s Canada Games team in Halifax and later played for Team BC at nationals.)
“She just carried the team the whole weekend,” said Bouchard. “She plays defence, but she was playing up and down – a special mention for her.
“She is that strong.”
“She did really well,” said van Vliet. “She forechecked and backchecked really hard all the time and she was right where she should be all the time. It was good to have her there.”
Also securing MVP nods from the coaching staff were Eby for Game 2, van Vliet for Game 3 and Oakley for Game 4.
“They were well deserved,” said Bouchard.
The Mustangs, then the Northern Avalanche, competed in the Wickenheiser tournament last year, winning gold in the Tier 3 draw. Completely dominating, the Avalanche outscored the competition 23-1 over five games at the inaugural tourney.
The Mustangs will be back on the ice for a four-game series this weekend against the Fairbanks Icebreakers, an Alaskan midget team, in Whitehorse.
“We’ve never seen them, never seen them play,” said Bouchard. “I know that the coach that’s coaching will probably end up coaching (Alaska’s) Arctic Winter Games team. So I expect some of the girls that will be playing will be on the Arctic Winter Games team.”
Action against the Icebreakers starts at 7 p.m. Friday at Takhini Arena followed by three games at the Canada Games Centre on Saturday at 12:45 p.m., 5:50 p.m. and Sunday at 9:15 a.m.
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