Two days after winning silver in bantam, the Yukon Mustangs picked up a second one in peewee at the B.C. Hockey Championships last week.
The Peewee Mustangs rep team grabbed silver at the Tier 3 championship in West Vancouver.
“I think we surprised a few people, but we felt we were a pretty good team so it didn’t surprise many of us,” said Mustangs coach Jake Jirousek. “The team really focused on becoming a team in the last couple weeks leading up to it. We had a number of camps and really started to play our system and believe in each other. We were easily the best team there.”
The Mustangs finished with silver following a 4-1 loss to the Merritt Junior Centennials in the final on Friday. Forward Landon Marsh put Yukon on the board with a goal assisted by Connor Cozens and Ashton Underhill.
“That was a tough one. We had a very large number of penalties that were hard to swallow,” said Jirousek. “We felt like we were a better team than those guys, we just couldn’t get going.”
The Mustangs reached the gold medal game with a 4-1 semifinal win over the Dawson Creek Canucks. The Tier 2 Canucks had handily defeated the Mustangs in tournament play during the season, but a relentless forecheck by the Yukon squad sent the Dawson Creek team reeling, said Jirousek.
“That was a team everyone was freaked out about because they looked like such a great team,” he said. “But the boys stuck to everything I planned out for them and that forecheck of ours – no one had any answer to it. Their coach came up to me and told me they had no idea what to do with it.”
The Mustangs outscored the competition 31-9 in the four-game round robin. They went 6-4 over the Vancouver Thunderbirds, 10-0 over Kitimat, 8-2 over Sooke and 7-3 over Trail.
Forward Underhill and defenceman Sasa Jirousek led the team with 13 points at the championships. Defenceman Nolan Matthews and forward Errol Eckholm both had four goals and five assists. Marsh finished with eight points and forwards Joshua Schenk and Ty Beacon had seven each.
“That was a complete team effort,” said Jirousek. “That’s what drove us through it. The boys bought into what they needed to do as a team and that’s how they played.
“We had the best defence core out of that whole tournament. Our first-year goalie (Joshua Wanless) absolutely did some great things and we had some leaders up front.”
The Bantam Mustangs claimed Yukon’s first silver of the championships with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vanderhoof Bears in the final last Wednesday in Smithers.
The Mustangs took a 2-0 lead on goals from Oscar Burgess and Bryce Anderson before the Bears came storming back and tied the game with 1:31 left in regulation. Vanderhoof scored the game-winner with 2:09 left in the 10-minute over time.
“The boys are upset, for sure. They knew it was there within their grasp,” said Bantam Mustangs coach Kirk Gale. “It was a game of inches and we came up a little short …
“We’re not very happy with a silver medal right now, but we’ll take it.”
(The Yukon Bantam Mustangs – then the Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs before a name change – won the territory’s first-ever gold at the B.C. championships last year.)
The Midget Mustangs went 2-2 in round robin play in at the midget Tier 3 championships in Lower Mainland Sunshine Coast, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to reach the playoffs.
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