Whitehorse’s Peewee A Mustangs took Castlegar minor hockey fans for an emotional rollercoaster ride on Sunday. The Castlegar fans went through ups and downs before finishing on the latter.
The Whitehorse rep team overcame three deficits en route to beating the Castlegar Rebels 9-8 in a shootout in the final of the Castlegar Tier 3 Peewee Tournament in B.C.
“It was a barnburner … It was a huge effort from the boys,” said Mustangs co-head coach Martin Lawrie.
Defenseman Cruz Goodman got the game-winner as Whitehorse’s fifth shooter before goalie Ethan Vanderklay plugged the net to give the Mustangs the gold.
The final capped a fantastic weekend for the Mustangs’ top offensive line.
Dylan Cozens had four goals and two assists, Bryce Anderson had three goals and an assist and Joe Stokes had three assists, in the final.
Anderson, who also scored in the shootout, had the tying 8-8 goal, assisted by Stokes and Cozins.
That line “played huge for us all weekend long,” said Lawrie. “These three showed everyone that they are going to be tough to handle come provincials.”
The Cozens-Anderson-Stokes line combined for 50 points over the five games in Castlegar. Cozens had 11 goals and 10 assists; Stokes had four goals and 11 assists; Anderson had seven goals and seven assists.
Cozens also had the game-winner in the semifinal as the Mustangs squeaked by the Nelson Leafs 3-2.
Whitehorse opened the tournament with a 4-0 win over the Leafs in the round-robin. Vanderklay got the shut-out.
“Ethan had a very strong weekend for us,” said Lawrie. “We saw a number-one goalie emerge for us in Ethan Vanderklay, for sure. That was really nice to see.”
The Mustangs then squashed the Missoula Bruins from Montana 11-1 before losing 8-2 to Castlegar to finish the round-robin.
“It was a very flat hockey game,” said Lawrie of the loss. “The boys didn’t have any jump and the game got away from us.”
In the 11-1 blowout over the Bruins – in addition to the usual suspects on the top-line – Niall Lawrie had two goals, while Josh Austin and Dylan Kindervater each had one.
“We were very, very happy,” said Martin. “We saw some huge growth out of our first-year hockey players.
“Our veterans, between that offensive line of Dylan, Bryce and Joe, and on defence, Niall (Lawrie) and Cruz (Goodman), they carried the load for us.
“We had a line of first-years: Oscar Burgess, Kailen Troke and Josh Austin, and the three of them just played better and better each game. That was very encouraging to see as we prepare for provincials.”
The Peewee A Mustangs will compete at the B.C. Provincial Hockey Championships in Creston next month.
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