Hockey aside, the Richmond Blues will likely remember their road trip to the Yukon a long time — maybe longer than the games they played.
For the third year in a row, the midget Blues came to Whitehorse for a few exhibition games against the Whitehorse midget Mustangs as the teams prepare for the BC Provincials next month.
Including a shootout Sunday, the Mustangs swept the Blues in the three-game series.
However, the Blues were not without some valid explanations for their losses.
Before what would be a 9-1 blowout for the Mustangs Saturday, the Blues spent the day soaking in the Yukon experience, trying their hand at dogsledding and then spending some time tobogganing.
“We went out at 11 this morning and didn’t get back until six this even,” said Blues coach Max Madrussan. “So by the time we got back there were some really tired legs and some pretty tired kids.
“They were struggling to keep up.”
“They were having fun enjoying the Yukon experience, so I don’t think they were at 100 per cent,” said Mustangs’ Riley Tobin. “This game I think we moved the puck better and faster, and we got more shots on net.”
Including Friday’s 6-2 win for the Mustangs, the first two games were played on the Canada Games Centre’s Olympic-sized rink, which, according to Madrussan, caused his team some problems.
“We play on NHL ice or smaller,” said Madrussan. “All the plays that we normally do, do not involve such a big sheet … It’s a lot more ice to cover.”
Madrussan’s observation seemed to ring true Sunday as the teams took the Centre’s NHL-sized rink.
Ending in a 5-5 tie after the Blues took five one-goal leads that were erased by the Mustangs, the coaches decided to go to a shootout. Ryley O’Connor scored the game winner in the shootout while Mustangs goalie Steven Harlow secured the win with a final save.
“Both of our goaltenders, Steven and Brad (Gustofson), they’re both amazing,” said Tobin. “Whenever we’re in a close game, we know we can count on them — they’re always stopping shots. (On Friday) Steven Harlow faced 41 and let in two. With goaltending like that and it’s hard to lose.”
The series marks the last non-league games for both teams before heading to Squamish, BC for the provincials. For Stephens, the series was the boost his offensive lines needed.
“Our forwards are starting to put the puck in the net,” said Mustangs coach Jim Stephens after Saturday’s game. “That was our problem at the start of the year. So now things are going pretty good.
“We’re gearing up for the (BC) provincials. So hopefully this series sets us up and gets us ready.”
“The people here and the hospitality has been unbelievable,” said Madrussan. “The Mustangs team have been the best hosts any team could ever ask for.”
Fur flies as Mustangs and Wolverines clash
In other rep-hockey news, the atom Mustangs thrilled crowds at the Canada Games Centre with an exhibition game against the Wolverines, a First Nations atom development team based in Whitehorse. The Mustangs took the game 6-5.
“They’re going to a tournament next weekend so they wanted some competition, so they asked for us to come play them,” said Mustangs coach John Grant.
Down 3-1 midway through the second, the Wolverines got back into the game with two goals in 20 seconds, made by Trenton Dupont and Daniel Moses — his first of two in the game.
The two teams have more than a love of the game in common, but in fact share two players, including Moses, who admits he has an advantage shooting on his Mustangs goalie.
“It felt pretty amazing scoring,” said Moses. “It’s sort of weird playing against my other team and it’s sort of different.”
Tied at 3-3, Mustangs’ Sam Logan scored twice before the end of the second and Riley Smoler opened the third to go up 6-3.
After Moses’ second, Wolverines’ Jessie McQuaig scored his team’s fifth. McQuaig also opened the scoring for his team.
Other Mustangs scorers were Spencer Lessard, as well as Chance Goodman and Levi Johnson, each of whom also had two assists.
Contact Tom Patrick at