Seven was not a lucky number for the KBL Environmental Mustangs in Alberta over the weekend.
The Whitehorse midget rec team went winless in four games, allowing seven goals against in the three of them, at the Lethbridge Midget AA Tournament.
The Mustangs had names on the disabled list before going and had a couple more added by the weekend’s end.
“We went down with a short bench – we have a few guys hurt – and we lost two guys there, so we were down to four defence and seven forwards,” said Mustangs head coach Barry Blisner. “It was tough going in terms of score and there’s always stuff you can work on, but I was proud of the guys. Nobody is ever happy about losing like that all the time, but they kept playing hard and didn’t lose focus in terms of taking stupid penalties … They stayed together as a team and it was good in that sense.”
The Mustangs faced their toughest opponent to start the Tier 2 tournament. They lost 7-1 to B.C.‘s Kelowna Rockets, who went undefeated into the final. The Rockets squad was the club’s Tier 1 AAA team.
Two teams in the Mustangs’ pool of four went on to play in the final.
“It was a AA tournament but there was actually a couple AAA teams there too, so we knew we were going to be in tough,” said Barry.
“The games weren’t that close in terms of the score, but there was a couple we kept close and then lost it in the third.”
The first period ended 2-0 before Mustangs’ Jack Blisner, assisted by Ben McClelland and Sam Logan, scored to make it 2-1. Whitehorse lost Kaleb Millwater to a cracked rib in the game.
“It was actually not a bad game for the most part,” said Barry. “They got a few in the third period, but considering they were a AAA team, we played pretty well. I think the kids were a little surprised by how close it was for most of the game.”
Later in the day the Mustangs lost 7-2 to Alberta’s Olds Grizzlys.
Whitehorse got on the board with goals from Jarrett Peterson and Body Elias. Malachi LaVallee had two assists, while Linsey Eby and Logan logged individual assists. The Mustangs lost Spencer Lessard to a concussion in the game.
“I thought that was a team we might be able to stay with, but we weren’t able to do it,” said Barry. “(Goalie) Devon Troke probably faced 50-something shots.”
“Throughout the whole tournament the goalies (Troke and Josh Tetlichi) got a lot of shots, but played well all the way,” he added.
Whitehorse encountered some bad weather over the weekend – Hurricanes and Thunder, to be specific.
The Mustangs lost 7-1 to Saskatchewan’s Swift Current Hurricanes on Saturday and 6-1 to Edmonton’s N.W.Z. Thunder on Sunday.
Ryan MacDonald, assisted by Jack Blisner, prevented the shutout to the Hurricanes.
Levi Johnson, assisted by Jack Blisner and McClelland, scored against the Thunder.
The game was 2-1 starting the third period, but “I think we just ran out of gas with the amount of guys we had,” said Barry.
“It’s like a lot of Whitehorse teams, when we go away, it sometimes takes them a while (to get going),” said Barry. “Playing a Tier 1 teams or a big city team, it takes them a while to realize they can play with them. In the Kelowna game, after the first period, it was 2-0 and we told the guys, ‘They’re a good team, but you can play with them if you work hard.’”
The KBL Environmental Mustangs will be competing in Whitehorse’s Rendezvous Hockey Tournament Feb. 21-23.
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