The Tier 3 Atom Jr. Mustangs took on Tier 2 teams over the weekend. Mathematics kept them out of the medal round.
The Whitehorse rep team won two of their first three games but were squeezed out of the playoffs through goal differential at the Salmon Arm Atom Development Tournament in B.C.
“We showed pretty well. We didn’t know what we were getting into, going down to an atom development tournament where all the teams are classified as Tier 2,” said Mustangs head coach Derek Johnstone. “But we do have a strong group of players and I think they showed it last weekend.”
The Mustangs opened their first tournament of the season with two come-from-behind wins.
They began with an 8-7 win over Semiahmoo, coming back from down 6-5 going into the third. Tied 7-7, Ethan Candow got the game-winner from the slot on a pass from Gavin McKenna.
Whitehorse goalie Fynn Ritchie got the win.
Game 2 saw another comeback – a remarkable comeback.
The Mustangs rallied from down 4-0 to defeat Penticton 7-4, scoring five unanswered goals in the third period.
“This is one of the best games I’ve been a part of,” said Johnstone. “That was something else to be a part of that one. I don’t think I’ve been a part of coaching in which I’ve seen a team down 4-0 and not give up. It was pretty exciting.”
Mustangs’ Luke Cozens notched two goals in the game while teammates Jonny Timmons and Jase Johnstone each had a goal and assist. Goalie Ben Power got the win in net.
“We had a lot of different scorers in that game, so it was a whole-team effort,” said Johnstone.
The Mustangs then fell 9-5 to the hosting Salmon Arm team, who went on to play for bronze. Whitehorse was down 4-3 by the end of the first and couldn’t catch up in the remaining periods.
“We started to run into some penalties in that game and played shorthanded from the halfway point on,” said Derek. “That had a little bit of an effect on us.”
McKenna scored the first two Mustangs goals of the game. Taylor Bierlmeier got a goal and assist while Jacob Nickel and Cozens each popped in a goal at the end.
The loss to Salmon Arm put the Mustangs in a three-way tie for second and were edged from the playoffs through goals for and against calculations.
The Whitehorse squad went on to lose 3-2 to Trail, B.C., in the consolation final. McKenna and Cozens put the Mustangs on the board with goals.
“I think it started from the goalies who played well … We never quit in any game,” added Derek.
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