Mustangs score third in Abbotsford

Maintaining high-intensity play in four games over three days is no easy task. The Midget A Mustangs will be working on that for their next tournament.

Maintaining high-intensity play in four games over three days is no easy task.

The Midget A Mustangs will be working on that for their next tournament.

In the Whitehorse representative team’s first tournament of the season, the Mustangs took two wins and two losses to tie for third in Tier 3 at the Abbotsford International 2012 Midget Memorial Tournament over the weekend in B.C.

“The boys put together really good efforts. It just comes down to the mental part of the game,” said Mustangs head coach Kerry Pettitt. “To maintain that psyche for that amount of time is something we will build on going forward. We understand what happened, will discuss it with the team and help them understand how to maintain that high level of commitment right to the third period.”

The Mustangs opened the tournament with back-to-back wins on Friday. The games gave both Mustangs goalies, Nigel Sinclair-Eckert and Youge Blackburn, their first tournament wins of the season.

The first game was a real confidence builder for the Mustangs.

Playing the Washington Hornets, the Mustangs went into the third period down 4-2 before coming back to win 5-4.

“That was huge for these guys,” said Pettitt. “I was impressed. It’s been a long time since I coached a Mustangs team that has been able to do that.

“We pushed back hard the whole period.”

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Forward Jerrett Malchow got the tying goal and defenceman Graeme Close got the winning goal.

Forward Mike Arnold, who was named captain following the tournament, produced a goal and an assist. Mustangs winger Liam Webster had a pair of goals.

Close and centre Matt McCarthy were named assistant captains after the tournament.

“I usually have a list of four or five (players) I’m considering and usually the captain and assistants emerge as we go through the tournament,” said Pettitt.

The Mustangs then downed B.C.‘s Langley Eagles 4-2 with an empty-netter late in the third. Arnold scored twice while Webster and forward Kole Comin also contributed goals.

“I wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to hold it together – it was the second game of the day,” said Pettitt. “They pushed us hard, but we held the fort.”

Whitehorse then lost 3-1 to North Vancouver on Saturday, with an open net goal at the end, and 6-3 to Wenatchee Junior Wild from Washington State on Sunday.

“It was tough to keep the emotions up; we had some big wins but couldn’t keep it going,” said Arnold. “It was a tough atmosphere to play in, we didn’t get the right bounces, were getting penalties – penalty trouble is what really hurt us in that 3-1 loss. We just couldn’t get the emotions back up after that.

“We have to come out firing every game, come out flying, get shots on net. We just need to get pumped up in the (locker) room. We have to come out on fire, that’s the main thing.”

Arnold led the team in points at the tournament with four goals and two assists. Mustangs forward Alex Hanson had one goal and three assists; Webster and Comin both had three goals.

The Mustangs began the road trip with a pretournament exhibition game against B.C.‘s Aldergrove Bruins. With goals from Arnold and Hanson, the Mustangs lost 6-2.

“It was a game to remind them how to play contact hockey,” said Pettitt. “It’s valuable to set up something like that, especially the first tournament of the year, because it’s almost like throwing away the first game of the tournament if you don’t play an exhibition.

“The last time any of them played (contact) at that level was probably last year at provincials.”

The Aldergrove Bruins will be playing a three-game series in Whitehorse the weekend of Mustangs Day on Dec. 1.

“That was our warm-up game for the tournament and we flew in that day,” said Arnold. “It was our first contact game in a bit, so in order to get some wins, we just have to play our style of hockey, get pucks deep, get pucks to the net.

“The good thing was we got to see them and now we know what to look out for.

“In order to get those wins, we need the crowd rocking.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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