Two of Alaska’s top AA teams were unable to secure wins against the U16 Mustangs over the weekend in Anchorage.
The Yukon rep team went undefeated in four exhibition games with three wins – including one over a state champion team – on a road trip.
“I’m very happy with where we’re at,” said Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie. “We knew a couple of the teams we were going to play in Anchorage were going to be pretty challenging … We were hoping we were at that level and we’re pretty impressed the guys played at that level.”
The Mustangs hit the ground running in Anchorage facing the Alaska U18 AA Jr Avalanche, the U18 AA state champions who are off to nationals this week.
Yukon took the game 2-0 with goals from Jonas Leas and Dylan Kindervater while goalie Ethan Vanderkley notched his first of three shutouts.
“That’s probably the best game we played,” said Lawrie.
The Mustangs then galloped to a 5-2 win over the Alaska U16 AA Wolves. Forward Bryce Anderson scored twice and had three assists. Linemate Johnny Elias posted a goal and two assists, Brett Walchuk had goal and assist, and Kindervater knocked in the game-winner. Mathew Butler, Oscar Burgess and Gavin Lawrie helped with assists.
The Mustangs then kept another state champion team scoreless. Yukon tied the Alaska U16 AA Jr Avalanche 0-0 in Game 3.
Vanderkley kept his net clean as the Mustangs topped the Wolves a second time at 4-0. Leas, Walchuk, Camerson Gingell and Mackenzie Benn-Wipp each found the back of the net. Gavin Lawrie and Dion Fowler each posted two assists.
“Different guys played well at different times. We had solid goaltending again, which we really come to expect from Ethan Vanderkley,” said Martin. “Our one line of Anderson, Elias and Kindervater had a really strong game in the 5-2 win over the Alaska Wolves.”
The U16 Mustangs is a new “elite-15” program established last year by Hockey Yukon for first-year midget players. Many on the roster also played for last year’s
Bantam Mustangs who won Yukon’s first-ever gold medal at the B.C. Hockey Championships last year.
The U16s won the Whitehorse International Showdown in December, beating the Yellowknife Wolfpack in the final.
“I’m happy with how they’ve been progressing and I think the program is proving to be a success,” said Lawrie. “Hopefully it’s something Whitehorse Minor and Hockey Yukon look to continue going forward. It’s a nice fit for us and I think we can grow off the successes of this age group after provincials last year.”
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