It’s a common story for Whitehorse rep teams when they travel to Outside tournaments.
Without regular full-contact play in Whitehorse, it usually takes a game or two for the teams to settle into a tournament – to get used to playing with contact.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Whitehorse’s opponents more often than not play full-contact all season.
That was the story for the Midget B Mustangs at the Might Moose Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, over the weekend.
“I’ve gone with a few of these teams (to tournaments) and it seems to take them a little bit to get on track, to get into full-contact,” said Mustangs co-head coach John Grant. “They seem to get pretty tentative when they first start. But it’s good for them, it’s a learning experience.”
The Mustangs opened with a lopsided loss, before a closer one and eventually a tie.
That was not enough for the Whitehorse rep team to make the playoffs in their first tournament of the season.
All three games were against teams from Anchorage’s representative Mighty Moose club. The Anchorage tournament was Tier 3, a tier above the Midget B Mustangs.
“It wasn’t the result I expected, we had quite good success there last year,” said Grant, of the Bantam Mustangs who made the finals last year.
“We have a pretty young team, for the most part, and a mix of guys who have played at this level and guys that haven’t. So it’s just a matter of getting them on the same page for the games.”
The Mustangs opened the tournament with a 7-1 loss to the U18 Moose team Saturday morning.
“We didn’t play well at all,” said Grant. “It wasn’t one of our better efforts of the year.”
Putting Whitehorse on the board was Karter Kazakoff, tipping a shot from Jordan King. Mustangs goalie Tynan Hope made 43 saves in the game.
“The bright spot was our little goaltender,” said Grant. “He played great.
“Our other goaltender ended up getting the flu, so he didn’t make the trip with us.
“(Hope) is a bantam boy we picked up because we didn’t have another one. He has played really well for us over the year so far.”
The Mustangs then suffered a 4-1 loss to a U16 Moose squad. It didn’t help losing three players in Game 1 – two to ankle injuries and one to a shoulder injury.
“We lost 4-1, but we played better,” said Grant. “We still weren’t there 100 per cent, but we played better.”
Scoring for the Mustangs was captain Malachi Lavallee unassisted, making a steal and lifting a backhander top shelf.
“It was a beautiful goal,” said Grant.
The Mustangs earned themselves a point with a 2-2 tie against another U16 Moose team Sunday. Whitehorse was seconds away from logging a win when Anchorage scored with 12 seconds left to tie the game.
“We came out on Sunday and we played way better – an excellent game,” said Grant. “The effort was great.”
Scoring for the Mustangs were Kazakoff unassisted, and King with assists from Brandon Janz and Matthew Jacobson.
It was the Midget B Mustangs’ second trip to Alaska over the past month. Over the Christmas holiday, the midgets travelled to Juneau to play a four-game series against various teams from the Juneau Capitals rep club, picking up a pair of wins.
Up next for the Midget Bs is the Rendezvous Hockey Tournament next month.
The team will then end the season with the B.C. Provincial Hockey Championships in March.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org