Mustangs struggle with Alberta champs, take silver

The Fort St. John Flyers, last year’s peewee Tier 2 Alberta champions, had the Whitehorse peewee Mustangs’ number over the weekend.

The Fort St. John Flyers, last year’s peewee Tier 2 Alberta champions, had the Whitehorse peewee Mustangs’ number over the weekend.

However, despite to two losses to the Alberta champs, the Mustangs captured silver at the Fort St. John Flyers Peewee Tier 2 Tournament in Fort St. John, Alberta, on Sunday.

“We were third in our last tournament, we moved to second (in Fort St. John), and we hit Lethbridge in a couple of weeks, so we’ll try to keep this trend going and win Lethbridge,” said

Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie. “We’re fairly happy with our results here. It was a higher end tournament than our first one; it was a Tier 2 tournament. To finish second against the calibre of teams that were there, we were pretty happy.”

One of the two losses to the Flyers came in the finals. A score of 6-3 meant taking silver.

The Mustangs dropped a 3-1 lead after encountering tough penalty calls. They received 16 penalties to the Flyers’ two.

Not helping was the loss of two of the Mustangs’ top players. Leading scorer Lukas Jirousek went out with a knee injury. Second-year player Jesse McQuaig was tossed from the game for a hit to the head.

“There’s a new hitting rule where they call penalties whenever they make contact with a head,” said Lawrie. “It truly was a suspect call … They had a young referee and I think a little inexperienced, and that’s where a lot of this came from. (Canada) Minor Hockey is still working on defining hits to the head.”

Producing for the Mustangs were forward Kaine Comin with a goal and assist, Riley Smoler with a goal, Lukas Jirousek with a goal, plus assists from captain Matthew Butler and Niall Lawrie.

The Whitehorse crew gained entry to the final by going 2-1 in the round-robin, starting with a 4-3 win over the Grande Prairie Knights

“We controlled the play for most of the game, but the boys had trouble finishing,” said coach Lawrie.

Finding the back of the net were Dylan Cozens with two goals, McQuaig and Comin each with one. Also getting points were Gavin Lawrie with two assists with additional ones from Logan Morris, Cruz Goodman and Niall Lawrie.

The Mustangs then suffered a 5-3 loss to the Flyers, falling behind 3-0 by the middle of the first period.

“They had our number,” said coach Lawrie. “We’d love to play them again and there’s a good chance we will.”

Scoring for the Mustangs were Goodman, Bryce Anderson and Joe Stokes with a goal and assist.

The Mustangs wrapped up the round-robin with a 7-5 win over the Dawson Creek Canucks.

In the game McQuaig registered a goal and three assists, Jirousek two goals, Joe Stokes a goal and assist, while Matthew Braga got two assists. Butler, Gavin Lawrie and Goodman also scored.

“Tynan Hope, a second-year goaltender, got the lion’s share of the playing time,” said coach Lawrie. “He played well, for sure. Ethan Vanderkley – he’s a first-year goalie for us – had a tough start, but he came back and gave us some good minutes after that.”

In their first tournament last month, the Mustangs finished third at the Abbotsford Icebreaker Peewee Tournament with a 7-2 semifinal loss to the North Shore Winter Hawks. The Mustangs began the Tier 3 tourney outscoring the competition 25-3 in their first three round-robin games.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com