Simply put, the Cinderwood Midget Mustangs smoked the competition at the Abbotsford Midget Memorial 2011 Tournament over the weekend in Abbotsford, BC.
The Whitehorse rep team was never in a losing situation and racked up high-scoring victories en route to winning the Tier 3 tournament on Sunday.
“I knew we had a good team from our results locally; we have a good rec league here and we’ve been doing well,” said Mustangs head coach Jay Glass. “I didn’t know how we’d hold up in the contact midget hockey brings, but we did well.
“This is a Tier 3 tournament, but we probably could have – and wanted to – gone into the Tier 2, which is a level up. But we weren’t able to do that because it was full.
“It was a good start for us. We’ll find out a little more when we go to Richmond after Christmas and are in the Tier 2 level there.”
Not even the final was close for the Mustangs, who defeated the hosting Abbotsford Hawks 9-1. Leading the charge was winger Tyrell Hope with a goal and three assists, followed by Jamie Tetlichi with two goals and an assist, Mike Arnold with a goal and two assists, and Graeme Close and captain Mike Hare each with a goal and assist. Also scoring were Brayden Kulych, Liam Webster and Wyatt Gale.
“The finals shouldn’t have been a 9-1 game,” said Glass. “There were all sorts of penalties both ways and I think we just out-disciplined them and wore Abbotsford down.
“I don’t know how to explain it. Our guys just really played a solid game. We were tough defensively, we were scoring on our chances, we were changing quick, it seemed like their energy levels were up.
“It’s hard to explain – but we’re very pleased.”
The Mustangs advanced into the final with a 6-1 win over the North Shore Winter Club Sunday morning. Left-winger Kulych did the most damage with a goal and two assists while Riley Pettitt and Hare both got two assists. Also scoring were Gale, Webster, Close, Brad Koprowsky and Tyler Wiens.
The semifinal saw the end of a lengthy shutout streak for Mustangs goalie Nigel Sinclair-Eckert. Before the semi’s third period, Sinclair-Eckert had not let in a goal the entire season, racking up over 190 of shutout play, including four half-game performances in the Whitehorse Rec League.
“It was kind of a lucky (shot) that ended the streak … but then he played the first half of the final and got a shutout there,” said Glass. “So he’s basically only let in that one goal in all that time.
“I said to him, ‘It was an incredible streak, but it’s probably good it came to an end because it takes the pressure off.’”
The Mustangs’ other goalie, Patrick Soprovich, who was on the ice for the tournament’s final buzzer, received no less praise from Glass.
“Patrick’s game has been just as good,” said Glass. “He was in there at tougher times in which we didn’t play as well in front of him.
“Both our goaltenders have been real stingy.”
Contrary to reason, the Mustangs began the tournament with their closest games, first defeating Washington State-Tier 2 team, the Kent Valley Selects 4-2.
Then the Whitehorse squad beat the Abbotsford Hawks 4-0, leading by just 1-0 for most of the game.
“It was a tough game,” said Glass. “The scores aren’t indicative of the level. There were some good teams down there.”
The Mustangs then closed the round-robin portion of the tournament with an 8-4 win over the Victoria Ice Hawks with Pettitt and Wiens each producing two goals and two assists. First-year Mustangs defenceman Michael Skookum also had a multiple point game with one goal and two assists.
Named tournament MVP by the coaching staff was captain Hare, accumulating two goals and four assists in the tournament.
“I don’t think he got the most points for us in the tournament, but it’s so much more than that,” said Glass. “He was all over the ice, setting an example for the younger guys, carrying the puck, forechecking, killing penalties – all the little things. So he was the coaches’ pick for MVP.
“But there were a lot of good performances. At certain times everyone was great.”
Abbotsford was the team’s first tournament of the season, next heading to Richmond, BC, over the holidays. With a 4-0-0 record, the Mustangs are at the top of the standings in the Whitehorse Rec League, beginning the season with three consecutive shutouts.
“We’re going to try to keep improving with every game and play our system, and the guys are committed to it,” said Glass. “When you have a group that committed to a system, and they get along and like each other, so they play for one another, then you get on a roll like this.”
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