Nothing builds a team’s confidence more than early-season success. That being the case, Whitehorse’s atom Mustangs are flying high after winning gold at their first competition of the year, the Fort St. John Atom Development Tournament in Fort St. John, BC, last weekend.
“The whole tournament our goaltending was a huge difference for us,” said Mustangs coach John Grant. “We’re doing well in goal, that’s for sure.”
Going 3-1 in the round robin section of the tournament, the Mustangs took the top podium spot with a 4-1 win over the Sexsmith Vipers from BC in the finals.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods and went up 4-0 in the third.
The score was reversed in their first encounter Saturday afternoon in the robin, with the Vipers finishing on top 4-1.
Although there was no official selection of an MVP for the game, Grant insists that forward Levi Johnson would take the honour.
“He was our top scorer for the tournament,” said Grant of Johnson, who scored five goals over the four games of the tournament. “He scored the first goal and set up the fourth goal — but the whole team actually played great that game. It was nice to come back and beat Sexsmith.”
The Mustangs started the tournament with a 7-5 win over the Fort St. John Flyers Saturday morning. By midway through the second the Mustangs had racked up a 6-1 lead, before allowing the Flyers back into the game with two quick goals at the end of the second and a couple more in the third.
“(Because) of the bus ride, I don’t think there was much gas left in the (players’) tank, I think that effected the team a little bit,” said Grant, referring to the 18-hour bus ride the Mustangs had to endure on the way down. “Thanks to our goaltending, we were able to hang on.”
Mustangs’ goalie Tyman Hope was named MVP for his outstanding work in the crease.
“He had an outstanding game for us,” said Grant.
Still feeling the effects of the lengthy bus ride, the Mustangs then took their loss to the Vipers in the afternoon. Once again, Grant points to sparkling network as the team’s strong point in the game.
“Going into third we were only down 2-1, and that was because of our goaltending,” said Grant. Mustangs goalie Devon Troke took the MVP in this game, while teammate Sam Logan scored his team’s goal, unassisted.
Facing the Flames from Chetwynd, BC, Sunday morning after a long night of sleep, the Mustangs had their closest contest of the tournament, taking the game 3-2.
With four minutes to go, the Mustangs’ defence had their work cut out for them with a pair of penalties giving the Flames a two-man advantage.
However, defenceman Mathew Butler blocked three shots to protect the Mustangs’ one-goal lead, earning the MVP nod from his coaches.
“Absolutely world class shot-blocks,” said Grant. “He just played really, really well.”
The atom Mustangs will travel to Anchorage, Alaska early in the New Year to compete in the North Star Tournament January 2-4. They will be one of 16 teams competing in the AA tournament.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org