With an early-season road trip slated for this weekend, the Midget A Mustangs needed a confidence builder in their first game of the season.
They got it.
The Whitehorse rep team overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Yukon Brewing Lead Dawgs in both teams’ season opener in the Whitehorse Rec Hockey League A division at Canada Games Centre on Saturday.
The Mustangs won the game 7-6 on a power play goal from Braeden Paun-Burnett, assisted by Nick Dobush, with 54 seconds left on the clock.
“Any time you win, it’s great, but against a team like that is nice,” said Mustangs head coach Barry Blisner. “Certainly it gives them a little bit of confidence before we leave.”
Nine Mustangs players left the ice with one or more points in the game, a good sign for a team that has just two returning players from last season.
In addition to the game-winner, Paun-Burnett had two assists. Teammate Chance Goodman also had two assists and a goal while Tyson Hope had the reverse with two goals and an assist.
Mustangs’ Spencer Lessard amassed three assists. Jack Blisner found the back of the Yukon Brewing net twice and Dobush had a goal and assist.
“Normally we don’t dress four lines, but we said we might as well get everyone in the game to see, and it worked out pretty well,” said Barry. “Yukon Brewing has two or three top-end guys in the league. So we told them before there are a couple guys out here that are way better than anyone we’re going to see this year.
“It was a good test. They got up a couple on us right off the bat, but we battled back.”
The Mustangs, who will play in a tournament in Richmond, B.C. this weekend, also survived a two-man advantage for Yukon Brewing spanning more than a minute-and-a-half late in the game at 6-6. Mustangs goalie Josh Tetlichi made some key saves but was later taken out of the game with a leg injury resulting from a hard shot from Brewing’s Kirk Gale that caught Tetlichi just above the knee.
Mustangs’ Devon Troke filled in between the pipes for the final eight minutes of the game and kept the net sealed.
“Considering we haven’t been able to work on special teams that much … I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Barry.
Rob Warner led the way for the brew team with a goal and three assists while teammate Jeff Pike had one of each. Teammates Frank Aucoin, Ryan Martin and Derek Klassen each had a goal.
“It was a good game. Those kids worked really hard, stayed on us and didn’t get down when they were behind and kept coming back,” said Yukon Brewing’s Mike Cozens, who is starting his 19th season with the team. “They’re a good team to play against …
“We’re not used to playing on the ATCO ice surface – it’s a little bigger – and the speed these kids have is pretty noticeable on the big ice surface.”
Yukon Brewing went on to defeat the Southpaw Rednex 10-7 on Sunday. After two games, Klassen is currently the league’s top scorer with six goals and three assists.
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