Kelowna, BC’s Pursuit of Excellence midget hockey team failed to live up to their name in Whitehorse this weekend.
The visiting academy squad suffered two losses in three games against the Whitehorse midget Mustangs rep team, going down 5-2 Friday morning and 2-1 that evening.
“It was close, checking hockey, so it was good for our kids to play against a team that plays structured hockey – there’s not a lot of structure sometimes in rec hockey,” said Mustangs head coach Jim Stephens. “When we play other midget hockey teams it’s a whole different style of hockey.”
While few will complain about the home team’s winning weekend record, some fans with keen eyes might argue it should have been perfect.
Tied 2-2 in overtime Saturday evening, with goals from Mustangs Lindsay Meikle and Tyler Wiens, some fans argued a shot from the blue line off the stick of Travis Rivest actually entered the Kelowna net and bounced out too fast for the refs to notice. The Pursuit of Excellence went on to win in a shootout.
“I didn’t see it. The referee didn’t see it,” said Stephens. “If it was in-and-out or through, I’m not sure. Since we don’t have any video replays and the refs didn’t see it, we’re out of luck.”
“We were really skating, but we needed to finish a bit more,” said Mustangs third-year defenceman Adrian Hawkings. “We let off in our zone a couple times – that’s where it cost us in the last game. It shouldn’t have been that close; we should have finished stronger than we did.”
In the opening game Friday morning, the Mustangs came back from a goal down, taking the lead in the third period. In the game Chris Vance and Trevor Hanna each had a goal and an assist. Also scoring were Matthew McCarthy, Rivest and Michael Hare.
Scoring for the Mustangs in the following game Friday evening were Hare and Meikle, who was named his team’s series MVP.
“He had a real solid series,” said Stephens. “He got a couple of goals, a couple of assists, and played solid two-way hockey.
“He plays with Tyrell Hope and Michael Hare, and they were probably our best line for the series.
“Trevor Hanna had a good series. He plays hard every game.”
The Kelowna team stuck around for a fourth game on Sunday, playing the Yukon’s Canada Winter Games boys’ team that will travel to Halifax next week. After going down 2-0, Team Yukon eventually pushed the game to overtime where Yukon’s Kyle Lowes scored on a breakaway for a 5-4 win. (See the full story on Wednesday.)
“I think the kids had a lot of fun playing in front of friends and family, and the POE team had a good time in Whitehorse,” said Stephens. “We’re lucky if we get one series at home in a year – we’re playing on the road all the time.”
The midget Mustangs will be hitting the road this week, heading to the Midget AA Tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta. In their only other road trip so far this season, the Mustangs took gold at the Midget Memorial Tournament in Abbotsford, BC, in November.
“It was good having a team up here – one our age,” said Hawkings. “It’s good to have some different competitions. It was a good warm-up for Lethbridge and the provincials in March.”
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