After a few games at the Angels On Ice Tournament over the holiday in Langley, B.C., the Yukon Female Mustangs established themselves as the team to beat.
Unfortunately for them, that’s what happened.
The Yukon rep team won the round robin, allowing just two goals in their first four games, but lost in overtime in the tournament’s semifinal on Dec. 29.
But the team is pretty happy to come away with bronze in their first Outside tournament of the season, said captain Hannah Nordlund.
“I think everybody was really happy with the way that we played. We really came together. We were trying a lot of new things and it seemed to work. Everyone had a lot of fun,” said Nordlund.
“We just seemed to play better. It was almost like being at the tournament and out of Whitehorse, our team stepped it up. It was really cool.”
After three sound wins, the Mustangs met their biggest challenge – the Meadow Ridge Barracudas.
The teams finished in a 1-1 tie to cap the round robin before the Barracudas produced a 2-1 overtime win over the Mustangs in the semi.
“They were playing in a midget tournament and our new girls on the team – the 12-, 13-year-olds – performed very well and we were able to hold our own,” said Mustangs head coach Louis Bouchard.
“Our only loss came in overtime. So we gave up a total of four goals in the tournament and three in regular time. We’re satisfied with the way things turned out.”
The Mustangs tied the Barracudas with a goal from forward Maddie Nicholson, who was named her team’s MVP for the game. The team veteran also scored her team’s goal in the overtime loss on an end-to-end effort in the first period. In fact, Nicholson found the back of the net in all five games.
“She scored all those goals and they had to triple-team her. She had three defenders on her any time she touched the puck,” said Bouchard. “They recognized early in the tournament that she was a threat and the minute she had the puck they sent three forecheckers on her.”
The Mustangs opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over the hosting Langley Lightning on Dec. 27. Nicholson had two while teammates Emily Grantham and Ecko Kirk added the others. Kirk got the MVP nod.
The Mustangs then produced the first of two shutouts with a 3-0 win over the Abbotsford Abby Ice, outshooting them 32-8. Nicholson, Grantham and Piper Fordham scored and Destiny Taylor took MVP.
Yukon then had to pull on the reins in a 9-0 shellacking of the Surrey Falcons.
“We were up 8-0 at the end of the second, so we told the girls that was enough,” said Bouchard. “We’ve been on the receiving end of those and it’s never fun.”
Fordham, who was named MVP, knocked in four; Nicholson and Emma Morin had two; Taylor also scored.
The Mustangs owe some of their success in Langley to Yellowknife Wolfpack goalie Aysha Barlas, who played in net all five games. After the Mustangs’ only goalie recently decided to leave the team, Barlas, who happened to be on vacation in Vancouver at the time of the tournament, agreed to fill in between the pipes.
Barlas was named the Mustangs’ MVP following the semifinal.
“She did awesome; she did amazing,” said Nordlund. “This was her first time being with any of us. It could have been scary for her, but she was awesome about it.
“She got MVP in that last game and she totally deserved it. She got really down on herself when she let in that goal, but everyone was like, ‘It went through five players before it went through you.’”
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