It took more than 15 hours for the Whitehorse Mustangs bantam B team to drive home from the Fort Saint John Tier 3 Tournament in BC, but the gold medals around their necks probably made the drive more agreeable.
“We stuck to basic hockey: get the puck deep, get it out when you can and create some turnovers,” said Mustangs coach Kirk Gale. “Once we got our legs underneath us, stuck to a simple coaching and playing plan, we created the turnovers we were looking for and the scoring chances developed.”
The Mustangs went undefeated in the three-game round-robin before beating the hosting Fort Saint John Flyers 6-1 in the finals.
Mustang Liam Webster got the game-winning goal at the end of the first period of the finals, making it 2-0 with Jarrett Malchow scoring his first of two to start the game.
Also scoring were Cole Morris, Scott Hunston and Willy Oulton.
However, play in the tournament was not always so one-sided.
In the opening game against Fort Nelson, the Mustangs found themselves staring down a 2-0 deficit before rallying for a 7-4 win.
After travelling to the tourney, the team was tired and it took about half a game to work out the fatigue and gel as a team, said Gale.
“It was our first time playing together – we only practised together up to this point – and some of the kids had never played this level of hockey before, so it was a learn-as-you-go atmosphere,” he said.
Starting off the scoring against Fort Nelson was Mike Arnold, who ended the game with a hat trick, followed by Wyatt Gale and Morris.
In the second period, the Mustangs scored three in three minutes, with seconds from Arnold and Gale and a first from Ryan Chippitt. Arnold scored an empty-netter in the third.
An offensive force in all their games, Arnold not only scored another hat trick in his team’s 5-2 win in their second game (also against the Flyers), in the final game of the round robin, he scored four goals in a six-point night.
“Mike has great awareness and he’s very nifty with the puck,” said Gale. “He certainly makes a lot of room for other players out there; he draws a lot of other players to him, opens up other avenues to pass and creates scoring chances. He does a good job at exposing their defence in their zone, for sure.”
The Mustangs advanced to the finals with a 8-2 win over Dawson Creek.
“We had excellent goaltending, our defence was really improved and the forwards took care of the rest,” said Gale.
Contact Tom Patrick at