The U16 Mustangs didn’t mind so much returning from Edmonton with five losses. It’s early in the season and they were in a pool with tough teams.
“We’re about as happy as we can be going home in five,” said Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie. “We deserved a better fate in a couple of games and I think we’re well positioned early for a very successful year again.”
The Yukon rep team went winless at the 2016 John Ferguson Memorial Tournament over the weekend in Edmonton, Alta.
The Mustangs entered the midget 15 AAA division — the highest U16 hockey in Alberta — this year after moderate success in the AA division last year, going 2-2-1 at the Ferguson tourney.
Despite just two weeks of practice before the trip, they were never shut out, never blown out, and had two one-goal losses to two of Alberta’s top ranked teams.
“We didn’t win a game but we played very well — probably deserved to win a few of them, but that’s just the way things go sometimes,” said Lawrie.
The Mustangs opened with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Leduc Oil Kings. Whitehorse’s Jarod McCulloch and teammate Caleb Goncalves, a new player from Vanderhoof, scored for the Mustangs.
They then fell 4-1 to the Canadian Athletic Club from Edmonton, with a goal from Mustangs’ Wyatt Peterson, and 3-1 to the Parkland Athletic Club from south of Calgary, with a goal from Mustangs’ Booker Daniel, who is also from Vanderhoof.
The Mustangs suffered another tight loss in a 2-1 contest against the South Side Athletics Club from Edmonton. Logan Debogorski from Yellowknife scored for the Mustangs.
“We were competitive in every game and probably unlucky in two or three of them. We legitimately out played the team and out chanced them and just didn’t manage to get the puck in the net,” said Lawrie.
The Yukon team finished the tournament with a 4-2 defeat to the Maple Leaf Athletic Club from Edmonton. Debogorski and Daniel scored in the game.
This season will be the second for the U16 Mustangs “elite-15” program established by Hockey Yukon for first-year midget players.
Goncalves, Debogorski and Daniel are among five Outside players on the roster, up from two last season.
“It’s growing, it’s improving,” said Lawrie. “Last season we were in Alberta playing at a AA level and doing well. This year we started off right off the bat at AAA and being competitive was very encouraging. We had a number of positive conversations about the team and the kids with a number of Western Hockey League scouts and with the coaching staff of some of the sports schools down there. So I think it’s working well.”
The U16 Mustangs will be back in action the weekend of Oct. 14 when they host the Yellowknife Wolfpack rep team for some exhibition games. That’s the same weekend the Whitehorse Huskies AA men’s team will host the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs from Alberta’s North Central Senior Hockey League for a two-game series. There are also plans for some major midget games with teams up from B.C.
“If things fall into place as they appear to be we’ll have a triple header with the Huskies, the major midgets and the U16 teams,” said Lawrie.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org