Female Mustangs take the challenge in Niagara

There were some match-ups you don't hear too often. Like Whitehorse versus Toronto and Whitehorse versus Boston.

There were some match-ups you don’t hear too often. Like Whitehorse versus Toronto and Whitehorse versus Boston.

The Whitehorse Female Mustangs faced some rather large metropolises at the Niagara Bauer Hockey Challenge over the weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The rep team didn’t come out on top in most of the David-Goliath matchups, but held their own to place for third in the U16 AAA division out of four teams.

“The team played awesome,” said Mustangs head coach Louis Bouchard. “It was a strong tournament. It’s a spring tournament, so they are made-up teams of the best players from the Toronto region or in the case of ‘Hub’ Boston. So we’re going in there playing AAA level teams and we held our own.”

The Mustangs finished the round robin with a 4-1 win over Rhode Island’s Burrillville Broncos, who went on to place fourth in the division.

Whitehorse’s Sierra Oakley had two goals and an assist. Teammate Chyanne Spenner logged one goal and two assists. Sophie Janke also scored and Davina McLeod had two assists. Mustangs goalie Abbie Turner got the win and Monica Johnson was named her team’s MVP.

“Though most of our goals came from the first line, our third line and second line kept us in their end,” said Bouchard. “When you don’t have to chase the puck end to end, it really helps…

“One of the nice things about this tournament was that it was not a midget tournament, it was a U16 tournament. We don’t have any third-year midgets, so it really helped us to play at that level. It was the proper level for us – of course we were the only team with 12-year-olds on the ice.”

The Mustangs opened the tournament with a pair of 6-1 losses, weighed down by lopsided third periods.

Whitehorse fell to Boston’s Hub City 6-1, but it was 2-1 after two periods. Johnson scored for the Mustangs, assisted my McLeod, and Shania Hogan got the MVP nod.

“Then penalties got in the way and we kind of lost momentum there,” said Bouchard of the third period.

Then came a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Ice Queens after being down 2-0 at the start of the third. Oakley prevented the shutout with an unassisted goal and Maddie Nicholson was named MVP for Whitehorse.

The Toronto Ice Queens went on to take gold following a 5-1 rematch win over Whitehorse in the semifinal. Mykhaila McInroy put the Mustangs on the board, assisted by Hannah Nordlund and game MVP Maddie Nicholson.

“In that game against Toronto, 5-1 was not indicative of the play,” said Bouchard. “Their goaltender was awesome and just shut us down. We kept pounding on the door and were just unable to put it away.

“Like we told the girls after, it was a great way to finish the season. We went from 6-1 in the first game we played them to 5-1 that time around, and I felt it was probably one of the best games we played all year. We probably needed a couple more games and then we’d be able to beat them.”

The Niagara tournament marks the end of the season for the team, but it won’t be long before they’re back at it. The squad will start dry-land training in June and will be on-ice in July.

Bouchard plans to hold tryouts for Yukon’s Canada Winter Games female hockey team in August.

“We have a pretty strong nucleus of girls we are hoping will come back,” said Bouchard. “Next year these girls are going to be a year old, a year stronger, a year faster. If they put in the work over the summer, we’re going to be that much stronger next season.”

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