All three of Whitehorse’s hockey rinks were the settings of fierce battles this weekend as teams fought for gold at Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association’s Year End Tournament.
Scooping up gold in the tykes division, team Wild defeated the Canucks 9-4 in the final.
“At this level, it’s amazing to watch kids improve all year,” said Wild head coach Mike Blower. “Some of the kids couldn’t skate at the start of the season, but they’re skating remarkably well now.
“They’re all really good teammates; there’s been no bickering.”
Leading the charge for the Wild was Jackson Benn with six goals, followed by teammates Cole Cowan with two and Andrew Terry with one.
“Since the beginning of the year (Benn) has been one of the top skaters on the team, but since over the last few weeks – I think over the Easter break he was practicing with a novice team his brother plays on – and all of a sudden he stickhandles as well,” said Blower. “It’s remarkable how many goals he scored since he started doing that.”
The Wild advanced to the final with a 7-6 win over the Flames after being down 3-0 early on and then 6-5 in the third.
“In that game it was Jackson and Cole again,” said Blower. “They’ve been our two top scorers all year. Jackson probably scored 20 goals this weekend.”
Putting the Canucks on the board in the final were Mattias Sembsmoem, Joey Shultz and Joe Hanson with two.
In the battle for bronze, the Flames downed the Penguins by a score of 7-2.
Yukon Office Supplies tops novice division
Off to a slow start in the novice division finals, Yukon Office Supplies closed a two-goal gap on their way to a 7-6 win over AFD Ltd. Tied 6-6 late in the third, Office Supply’s Josh Kearney put in the game winner with 1:03 left in regulation time, assisted by Keegan Bevilqua and Dawson Smith.
“So they had the pressure on us but our kids played really hard,” said Office Supplies’ head coach Kirk Gale. “They played really well and everyone contributed.
“It’s been a good year because this is the same team that went to the territorial (championship) in Watson Lake and won the gold medal down there. All and all, you couldn’t ask for a better year. They put their souls into it and they were an easy team to coach.”
Playing a part in the majority of his team’s goals in the finals, Office Supplies’ Wyatt Peterson racked up a hat trick and an assist for a four-point game.
“He’s our go-to guy for sure,” said Gale. “He’s a very good defenceman and he’s very good with the puck, he’s sees open ice, is good with the puck and has a good shot. All that combined, he certainly deserved his three goals today.”
Also scoring for Office Supplies were Cole McCulloch and Saul Galf, each with one. Finding the back of Office Supplies net for AFD were Stanley Cooley and Isaac Williamson, both with hat tricks.
To get to the final Office Supply defeated third place finisher Skookum Asphalt 7-1.
“The kids came out firing on all cylinders,” said Gale. “(Skookum Asphalt) gave it all they had, but out team got stronger and stronger as the game progressed.
“The kids were coming out to skills, coming to practices and had parents fully supportive of what we were doing. When you add all that up, it’s no wonder where we got to and how we did it.”
Castlerock captures bantam title
Castlerock head coach Jeff Hunston was hoping he could inspire his team with his Oldtimer hockey title his team won last week, but as it turns out, that wasn’t necessary.
“I was tempted to bring my oldtimer championship towel in to motivate the boys,” said Hunston. “But I think they won it on their own merits.”
Castlerock took the bantam title Sunday in a 6-3 over EBA Engineering in the final with Castlerock’s Willy Oulton scoring two goals and producing two assists. However, the title was the result of a strong team effort, said Hunston.
“We’ve got some highly skilled players, but you only win with everyone pitching in,” he said. “We have some players that really developed this year. Kirk Spenner on defence has really developed a lot more confidence with the puck and rushing back to defend. Brett Skookum, our goalie, had a really strong year; he came in a little rough and he’s really developed and had a great performance in this game.”
Also scoring for Castlerock were Wyatt Gale with two, Jarrett Molchow with one and Kaleb Millwater with a shorthanded goal to seal the deal late in the game.
For EBA it was Daniel Bunn with two goals and Mike Arnold with a goal and two assists.
To reach the final, Castlerock advanced with a 4-1 over the peewee A Mustangs, who finished fourth with a 7-2 loss to Kopper King in the bronze game.
“It was a really tight game,” said Hunston. “You have to give a lot of credit to the Mustangs because they play hard, are great skaters and they’re fierce on the puck. So they can get under the skin of the older guys – they bring the best out of them too.”
Cinderwood hangs on for atom title
With Duncan’s capitalizing on a two-man advantage late in the game to close the gap to a goal, Cinderwood’s defence had their work cut out for them. However, Cinderwood kept their net clear of pucks enough for a 6-5 win to capture the atom title on Sunday.
“All the kids played really well,” said Cinderwood head coach Mike L’Henaff. “We have a really good team and I think that’s what won it for us – we don’t just rely on one or two players. Everyone joins in and plays.”
The youngest team in the league with just one second-year player on the roster, Cinderwood will no doubt be the team to beat next season.
“We have only one second year player, Brandon (Barrett), and he started hockey this year,” said L’Henaff. “So that was a big thing too – the kids matured through the year and everyone came together and it was really fun.
“There’s probably four kids that will be playing on the Mustangs next year – it depends on the parents too.”
Putting in the eventual game winner was defenceman Jordan Vallevand, his second of the game, while teammates Niall Lowrie and Jake Wawie also produced.
For Coldwell Banker it was mostly Dylan Cozens with four goals and an assist while Johnny Elias scored the final goal.
Atom Mustangs go undefeated
Although missing defenceman Matthew Cooper, who has been out for two weeks with a concussion, the atom Mustangs were able to go undefeated in five games on their way to capturing the peewee division title.
The Mustangs finalized their first place finish with a 5-1 win over Takhini Transport, thereby avoiding a three-way tie for first in the round-robin style division competition – the only division not to have finals or semifinals.
“Every game was a team effort,” said Mustangs head coach Wade Comin. “I don’t want to put it on any one or two players. The whole team came together and we won it as a team.”
In a much closer game, the Mustangs downed the Avalanche – the all girls team – with a narrow 3-2 victory.
“In our minds the gold medal game was our second game against the girls’ team, the Avalanche, because they beat us in the territory (championships) in Teslin this year,” said Comin. “We knew our toughest competition would be the girls.”
Scoring for the Mustangs in the final game was Jesse McCuaig, Riley Smoler and Lukas Jirousek, each with one, plus two from Kaine Comin, who also had an assist.
“Kaine had a very solid performance,” said Comin. “We’ve been working on moving the puck around more and he’s doing that, but he’s putting it in the net when he has to too.”
Scoring for Takhini Transport was Max Clark.
Team Underhill finished second and the Avalanche finished third in the division.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org