The Cinderwood Midget Mustangs, who have had a season of highs and lows, reached the end of the road with one last high on Sunday.
The Whitehorse representative team defeated the Air North Jets 6-2 to win Division A of the Whitehorse Rec Hockey League at the Canada Games Centre.
After a one-goal first-period in favour of the Mustangs, the rep squad took control in the second, wearing down the Jets, who were coming off a grueling shootout win over the Roadhouse the night before.
“They skate hard, they backcheck, which most rec teams don’t do, so I think we just wore this other team out tonight,” said Mustangs coach Kirk Gale. “Everyone contributed, the kids played well.”
“It was a fast game and those guys are a good team. It’s always tough to beat them; we always have tight games with them throughout the year,” said Jets captain Ryan Kinney. “They have the legs and the manpower and just keep coming. We petered off towards the end.
“We played the Roadhouse last night and only had five guys – five of us played the whole game – so we’re pretty tired from last night.”
Getting the game-winner in the final was forward Liam Webster for his second straight goal with 11:53 left in the second to make it 3-0. Webster was given the Horse Award, handed out to the Mustangs player with the grittiest performance after each game.
“He had two excellent shots on net, he got in position, he was playing well back and forth,” said Gale. “So we were really happy with his play.”
Also scoring for the Mustangs were Jarrett Malchow, Tyrell Hope, Wyatt Gale and Riley Pettitt. Mike Arnold had two assists and goalie Nigel Sinclair-Eckert got the win.
Scoring for the Jets, who finished second in the regular season one spot up from the Mustangs, were Tanner Kulych and Colin Dendys.
“(The Mustangs) played both ends of the ice. They don’t leave much room to do anything,” said Kinney. “That’s all there is to it.”
With the exception of the B.C. Provincial Hockey Championships, in which the Mustangs placed sixth, it’s been a good season.
Competing at the Richmond International Midget Hockey Tournament over the Christmas holidays, the Mustangs defeated teams from California and Las Vegas to reach the semifinal and finish third out of 20 Tier 2 teams.
In their first tournament of the season, the Mustangs dominated the competition at the Abbotsford Midget Memorial 2011 Tournament in November. The Mustangs were never in a losing situation and racked up high-scoring victories en route to winning the Tier 3 tournament. They also reached the semifinal at the Lethbridge Midget AA Tournament in Alberta at the start of February.
The season highlight for 16 Midget Mustangs was playing on Team Yukon and winning gold at the Arctic Winter Games in front of an ecstatic hometown crowd in Whitehorse last month.
“The Arctic Winter Games was a big high for us and 99 per cent of the team was the team that played tonight,” said Gale. “We felt pretty good going into provincials. We certainly played well at provincials, played well enough to get more wins than we did, we just had an inability to score. That cost us.
“The rec league was always in our mind, but our big focus were the Arctics and provincials… But the guys got geared up – we’re playing in April, which we don’t usually do.”
Narrow Gauge repeats in Division B
The rec league’s Division B final saw a rematch between last year’s finalists. Though Narrow Gauge defended their title, it was anything but an easy win.
Both teams took leads, dropped leads and had last-minute goals as Narrow Gauge snatched a 5-4 overtime win over Fountain Tire on Sunday at the Canada Games Centre.
“It was a tough game; both teams were skating really hard,” said Narrow Gauge captain Dan MacDonald. “There’s a bit of a history. We played them in the final last year as well and came out on top.
“Then we lost to them in the first round of the playoffs in a shootout about two weeks ago, so we’ve been on a collision course ever since for the final here.”
The game looked as if it would end in regulation when Narrow Gauge’s Steve Wort scored with 47.6 seconds left in the final period.
However, Fountain Tire’s Chad Thomas put a slapper through traffic to score with just 2.2 left on the scoreboard to send the game into overtime.
“That one with 2.2 seconds left almost killed us,” said MacDonald. “There was a lot of frustration because once again they came back. We thought we had a winner there, scoring with 47 seconds left and they got it back. There was a lot of frustration there.
“We regrouped, went out and had a couple close calls in the overtime there where it might have gone the other way.
“Their goalie (Jordan Cowman) played amazing. So for us to finally get a fifth one by him was great.”
MacDonald scored the game-winner with less than a minute left in overtime, finding the five-hole on a three-on-one rush.
“We’re both equally matched teams and you could see the ebb and flow of the game – we go up, they go up, we come back, they come back,” said Fountain Tire coach Greg Cowman. “It was a good game.
“(Fountain Tire) are a group of guys who are slowly coming together over the last three or four years and they are getting better, getting to know each other, and they are playing more and more like a team.”
Yukon Inn stages big comeback in Division C final
The Midget B Mustangs watched their comfortable lead evaporate in the Division C final Saturday evening at the Canada Games Centre.
Down 5-2 with five minutes to play in the final period, the Yukon Inn Boiler Room managed to push the game to overtime before winning 6-3 in a shootout.
Yukon Inn’s Lars Jessup was a big part of the comeback. After assisting a goal from Dave Galbraith, to make it 5-3, Jessup scored two more goals to tie the game.
Once in the shootout, Jessup was the only one to score while his goalie, Daryl Froese, stopped the three Mustangs shooters.
Also scoring for Yukon Inn were Joe Beckett and Galbraith with two. Jessup also had two assists in the game.
Scoring for the Mustangs were Sameen Bhullar, Gage Aird, Willy Oulton and Dominic Korn with two.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org