The Mustangs bantam B came within a couple minutes of upsetting a Fort Nelson crowd over the weekend, but came up short in the end. It was a close one.
With goalies standing on their heads – as the expression goes – at both ends of the ice, the Mustangs and the Fort Nelson Fury went through eight shooters before the home team took the gold and the Mustangs silver at the Fort Nelson Bantam Tier 4 Tournament.
“These were the benchmark games to see where we are and what we need to work on,” said Mustangs head coach John Grant. “They performed beyond my expectations. They actually played really, really well.
“We did some line-juggling, tried people with other people. They really responded – it was terrific.”
In the finals, the Mustangs twice dropped one-goal leads with Kadin Kormandy getting the Mustangs’ first goal, assisted Alidas Jamnicky and Karter Kazakoff, and Nick Light scoring the second. The Fury scored to tie with two minutes left in regulation.
To start the shootout, each team scored once in the opening five shooters, with the Mustangs’ coming from Malachi Lavallee. It then went to sudden death with the Fury scoring three shooters later to win 3-2. Trever Harris was in the net for the Mustangs.
“Our goaltending, I thought, was actually quite good; both our goalies played well,” said Grant. “(Goalie) Felix Russell, he had a great tournament. Alidas Jamnicky, who plays defence, had a really good tournament.
“All our kids played well, as a group. Everyone contributed; we didn’t have anyone that didn’t show up.”
The Mustangs’ goaltending also shined between games at a skills competition on Saturday night. Stopping a barrage of shots goalie Felix Russell produced the greatest save percentage to win Best Goalie Award while teammate Karter Kazakoff won fastest skater.
The Mustangs opened the tournament with games against teams from Fort St. John team, defeating Royal Bank 5-1 and then Canadian Tire 10-5 with five goals in the third.
“The kids really came out in the third period and picked their game up,” said Grant.
Causing the biggest puncture in the CanTire game was Max Clarke with two goals and two assists, while Kazakoff had three points with two goals and Kormandy also produced two goals.
The Whitehorse rep team then lost 4-2 to the Fury to end the round-robin portion of the tournament, running into penalty trouble late in the game and allowing four unanswered goals in the third period.
“The kids competed well and I think we can beat this team,” said Grant. “Obviously not on that day.”
The Fort Nelson tourney provided the Mustangs’ first games as a team and many of the players’ first exposure to contact hockey.
“They all play on different house teams, so they come together as the B team once a week,” said Grant. “We’ll go to provincials in March. We’re trying to arrange a home-and-home series with Juneau’s bantam team.
“It was the first time a lot of them have played full-contact and they did well with that too.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org