The U13 Whitehorse Peewee Mustangs are this year’s peewee tier three B.C. champions after a very successful trip to the 2019 Peewee Tier Three B.C. Hockey Championships in Powell River, B.C., from March 16 to 21.
Going 5-1 over the course of the tournament, the Mustangs had no shortage of offense as they scored an incredible 61 goals in six games.
The team opened up with a 15-2 win against Powell River on March 17 and followed up with a 10-6 win against the Burnaby Winter Club on March 18 and a 9-3 win against Kelowna on March 19.
Matched up against Terrace on March 20, the Mustangs suffered a 6-2 loss — the only blemish on an otherwise perfect tournament record.
The team rebounded later that day, earning a 12-6 win against Quesnel.
In the final game of the championship, Whitehorse again beat Powell River — this time by a score of 9-2.
Head coach Derek Johnstone said the team went into the championship looking to do well.
“I think we knew we were going to be one of the top teams,” said Johnstone. “We felt pretty confident with our ability to perform at (the) high level that we needed to be at the top. When we went into the tournament, all the players sort of knew we had a good chance to compete at the top.”
Johnstone said the focus for him and the rest of the coaching staff has been preparing the Mustangs for the mental side of the game all season.
“We wanted to get to a certain level and not really fall back anytime during the season,” said Johnstone. “One of the main points was just to mentally get them focused for towards the end of the year.”
The team had a number of tournaments as well as lots of practices and games against the bantam development program here in Whitehorse to help improve.
“We try to teach them things as they’re growing as young athletes and as hockey players,” said Johnstone, explaining time at the rink is a chance for players to have fun and take a break from their daily schedules. “Having said that, we’ve just preached to mentally think the game and be ready to practice at a high level.”
Johnstone said the team’s loss at an earlier tournament in Grande Prairie, Alta., to a strong team from Prince George, B.C., helped put the team in the right frame of mind.
“Having lost there, I think it really helped up to focus (on) where we wanted to get to,” said Johnstone. “Going to provincials, it was a pleasure to see how much work we put into this and see the kids come together and everyone get a chance to play. It was something rewarding for the coaching staff as well as players.”
The reasons for that, says Johnstone, is how much the players embraced their roles on the team.
“It’s pretty tough at a young age for some kids not to be able to score all the time or some kids scoring and other kids not getting much ice time,” said Johnstone. “To keep them together as a team and let them know that everyone is just as important as (everyone else) was one of the things that really, really came out at provincials. We played as a team, we did functions as a team, we walked as a team and I think that was the biggest thing — everyone felt like they were equal.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org