Things are looking promising for the Peewee Mustangs when it comes to the B.C. Provincial Hockey Championships next month.
The Whitehorse rep team won gold at the Rossland-Trail Peewee Tournament the weekend before last. En route to the Tier 3 title, the Mustangs downed three or so of the teams they could face at the championships.
“We played in the level we’ll be playing in at the provincials and three of the clubs will be … at provincials, so it has given us a good sense of where we stand with that group,” said Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie.
The Mustangs won the tournament with a 6-4 comeback win over the Nelson Leafs, a team undefeated in arriving in the finals.
Down 4-3 with four minutes left in regulation, the Mustangs tied the game before forward Logan Morris scored his second goal of the game to take the lead. Teammate Riley Smoler then sealed the deal with an empty-netter for his second of the game. Also scoring were Gavin Lawrie and Dylan Cozens.
“We out-shot them for most of the game, we just didn’t bury the puck in all our opportunities,” said Martin Lawrie. “Even when they went up in the third period, the feeling on the bench from the players was very positive. I don’t think any of them felt, at any point, they weren’t going to win that hockey game.”
The Mustangs advanced to the final with a 5-3 win over the Kelowna Junior Rockets in the semifinal.
No run-of-the-mill team, the Rockets had won their previous two tournaments and went into the tournament with a 28-3-1 record.
“They are definitely one of the stronger Tier 3 teams in B.C.,” said Martin Lawrie. “They are way out in front of everybody in league play.”
Doing the most damage for the Mustangs was forward Lukas Jirousek with a hat trick, while Gavin Lawrie and Cozens also found the back of the Rockets’ net.
Whitehorse went undefeated in a three-game round-robin, opening with a 5-3 win over the Rockets with Morris having a three-point game with two goals. Mustangs’ Joe Stokes, Smoler and Jacob Newkirk also scored.
In the round-robin the Mustangs also defeated the South Okanagan Junior Coyotes 7-1 and the hosting Rossland-Trail Smoke Eaters 6-2.
Against the Coyotes Jirousek got his first hat trick of the tourney, Smoler scored and had three assists, and Kaine Comin helped out with three assists.
Against the home team, Smoler scored twice in a four-point performance, Jirousek had two goals and Comin three assists.
Each tournament appearance for the Mustangs this season has seen improved results.
In early October, with barely any games under their belts, the Mustangs reached the semifinal of the Abbotsford Icebreaker Peewee Tournament, a Tier 3 tournament, in B.C.
The peewees then won silver at the Fort St. John Flyers Peewee Tier 2 Tournament in November, losing in the final to last year’s Tier 2 Alberta champion team.
This past tournament, the Mustangs shined on and off the ice.
“What was nice was the comments from the other coaching staff, and comments around town, on how the boys behaved,” said Martin Lawrie. “Hotel staff, bus drivers (said) they were the best behaved hockey team they have ever had.
“Coaching staff from both the Kelowna and Nelson teams made comments about how well the boys played, how disciplined they were, their passing and their understanding of the game.
“We have definitely grown as a team.”
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