The Mustangs, Whitehorse’s rep hockey teams, were back in the saddle this weekend with their season openers. Playing three games on Sunday, the Mustangs were undefeated with a handful of players in the red, black and white already starting to stand out.
In the bantam house league division, the peewee Mustangs might have had a few “garbage goals,” said coach Shawn McLeod.
But bashing in ugly goals is all part of the game plan.
“We’re not going to dazzle anybody with finesse this year,” said McLeod. “It’s just hard work and that’s just what we have to do to win games. And that’s what the boys did today.”
Tied 4-4 with under nine minutes left in regulation time, Mustang Caleb Marsh squeaked in his team’s winning goal, helping give his team a 5-4 win over Castle Rock at the Canada Games Centre.
“The peewee Mustangs bring their A game and it’s based on a very intense two-man forecheck and they’re very aggressive physically,” said Castle Rock head coach Jeff Hunston. “Plus skating – they’re great skaters.
“Our guys, in the first period, were a little clued-out.”
Marsh’s goal was assisted by centre Dylan McQuaig, who was involved in all five Mustangs goals, getting three goals and two assists.
“He’s just a fantastic hockey player,” said McLeod. “He works hard every shift and there’s not much to coach in him; we just send him out there and he gets the job done.”
Scoring the Mustangs second goal to put his team up 2-0 in the second was Levi Johnson, who also got an assist. Luke McGrath grabbed a pair of assists, as did Tyson Hope.
Scoring for Castle Rock was Ryan Chippett, Wyatt Gale, Raymond Emsley and the “big defenceman” Sameen Bullar.
“Sameen is a force,” said Hunston. “The last two years he’s really improved his puck-handling skills so he likes to rush the puck. But of course we’re telling him he has to make use of our forwards; we don’t want people trying to rush the puck, getting caught and them turning the puck over.”
Mustangs’ Leas goes it alone
Atom Mustangs head coach Brent Cooper says his player Jonas Leas is “a hard worker and he drives to the net, that’s how he gets his goals; he’s not scared to go to the front of the net.”
That statement not only helps explain Leas’ hat trick in his team’s season opener against the Avalanche in the house league’s peewee division, but how he did it on unassisted goals.
The atom Mustangs came out strong on Sunday, going up 3-0 in the first period on their way to a 7-2 win over the Avalanche, Whitehorse’s girls’ rep team.
“So we have a new base to build on and I think we’ll have a pretty decent year,” said Cooper. “We are trying to get out to four (tournaments), but none are confirmed yet. We’re looking into going to Alberta once and BC a few times.”
Giving her team its first goal of the season was Avalanche’s Linsey Eby, shoveling in a rebound from Madison Logan while next to the crease. Eby has a tenacious mindset on the ice, said Avalanche assistant coach Megan Moore.
That can also land her in trouble. Eby got three of her team’s five penalties on Sunday.
“She has an amazing amount of talent and she’s willing to give it her all too,” Moore said. “(The atom players) are smaller guys and it’s hard not to push them around and she gets into the game.”
Dana Vanvliet scored the Avalanche’s second, out sprinting the Mustangs defence to a loose puck and slipping it through the five-hole of goalie Tynan Hope in the third period.
“I think we quit skating a little bit and not paying attention to positioning, which we’ll work on in practice,” said Cooper.
Also scoring for the Mustangs were Riley Smoler with two, and Cruz Goodman and Kaine Comin with one.
Mustangs tame Savages
Although Mustangs’ Scott Meredith scored twice and Tyrell Hope had a goal and assist, it was the team effort that got the job done, said bantam Mustangs coach Dave Pearson.
“There were a couple guys who had multiple-point games, but really it was a team game and everyone did well,” said Pearson. “It looked good out there.”
Playing in the B division of the Whitehorse rec league, the bantam Mustangs took an early lead – scoring in a minute, 10 second into the game – and shut the door in the final period for a 5-2 win over the Summit Savages.
“Our goalie played very well,” said Pearson, of goaltender Nigel Sinclair-Eckert who played from the puck-drop to the final horn. “He’s going to be good for us this year. He probably stopped 35 shots, so he did well.
“It’s a good start for them; they all played well as a team. We’re pretty happy with the balance of the lines – we have three good lines.”
Helping keep the Mustangs in good standing on the scoreboard were Kyle Lowes and Trevor Whynot with goals.
“The (Mustangs) were good as usual,” said Savages captain Mark Nassiopoulos. “They’re well coached and they play a good system.
“For us, that was our first game – I think that was our fourth fifth time out on the ice – but it wasn’t bad. We’ll get our legs back.”
Scoring for the Savages were Brandon Duncan and Brad Magnuson, both assisted by Chris Kostelnik.
“Chris is arguably our best player,” said Nassiopoulos. “He’s a great skater, a great passer and he does really well out there.”
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