The Yukon Rivermen started the B.C. Zone Bantam AA boys hockey season with a four-game roadtrip to British Columbia from Nov. 1 to 3, returning home with a 0-4 record but plenty to build on.
Head coach Mike Cozens said he was happy with the way the team adjusted to the speed and physicality of the league, as just one player on the Rivermen roster — Tanner Gorrell — was a full-time player last season.
“We played the four games, but we played two games against one team and two games against another,” said Cozens, who explained his team was up against a fresh opponent for the final games of the weekend. “By the third and fourth game, that was the other team’s first and second game. Our kids actually responded pretty well once they were starting to adjust to the pressure.”
The season started for the Rivermen with two games in Enderby, B.C., against the OMAHA North team on Nov. 1 and 2.
OMAHA North won the opening game 13-6. After going down 9-0, the Rivermen regrouped to outscore their opponents 6-4 in the second half of the game.
In the rematch the next day, the Rivermen lost 9-1.
Later on Nov. 2, the Rivermen were in Kamloops, B.C., to play the first of two games against Thompson. After leading the game both 3-1 and 4-3, the Rivermen ran out of steam and lost 8-4.
“We just ran into some mistakes,” said Cozens. “(The team) isn’t used to dealing with that kind of pressure, and so we forget to cover an area or give the puck up on a turnover, but we actually competed pretty well that game.”
The final game of the weekend was a 7-1 loss against Thompson on Nov. 3, which Cozens said was a combination of some untimely mistakes and hot goaltending for their opponents.
“We lost all four games, but generally speaking I would say we got better and better in every game,” said Cozens. “The kids meld well together. We get along really well with the Yellowknife kids.”
Like last season, the team is comprised of two players groups – one in Whitehorse and one in Yellowknife. Also like last season, the team’s two goaltenders are split between the two cities.
“Yellowknife had two good goalies come out and so did we,” said Cozens. “It worked well to pick one from each and we actually picked the two best goaltenders. … It works out well because of course they get to practise and they have their goalie and we get to practise and we have our goalie, but that was actually the natural order of things.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Rivermen is 11-year-old Gavin McKenna, who potted four goals and added four assists to finish with eight points on the weekend.
Other scorers for the team included Carson Impett with four assists, Bretton Horte with two goals and an assist, Gavin Pellissey with two goals and an assist, Luke Cozens with two goals, and Michael Van Metre with a goal and an assist.Gorrell, Nash Holmes and Alexander Ramsay each had an assist and Aleksi Leger had a goal to round out the scoring.
Fynn Ritchie and Gavin Craig each played two games in goal for the Rivermen.
The team is scheduled to make its home debut on Nov. 15 and 16 when the North Central Zone team visits Whitehorse.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com