Back-to-back weekends packed with hockey may have taken a toll on two Mustangs teams.
The Norcope Bantam Mustangs and the Peewee B Mustangs Whitehorse rep teams went from Outside tournaments the previous weekend to four-game series during Hockey Day in Whitehorse and Mustangs Night at Takhini Arena over this past weekend.
“This was game number nine in about 10 days … so I think they might have been a little worn out,” said Norcope Mustangs head coach Martin Lawrie. “So we lacked some depth today.”
The Norcope Mustangs hosted the Port Alberni Bulldogs from Vancouver Island and the Peewee B Mustangs hosted Alaska’s Juneau Capitals during the annual Whitehorse hockey celebration.
A 7-2 win by the Norcope Mustangs over the Bulldogs Saturday night marked the only win for the two Whitehorse teams in the two four-game exhibition series. The Mustangs fought back from a goal down to score four goals to end the first period up 4-2.
Mustangs captain Mathew Cooper scored twice, Ethan Lavallee had a goal and assist, including the game-winner, and assistant captain Gavin Lawrie had two assists. Mustangs goalie Tynan Hope got the win.
“They are a pretty good team,” said Gavin. “They are probably one of the hardest teams we’ve played all year and we’ll probably see them at provincials.”
The Bantam Mustangs also lost 3-1 on Friday, 3-2 Saturday morning and 3-1 Sunday morning.
The Mustangs were missing one of the team’s star forwards, Dylan Cozens, who broke his leg at a Tier 2 tournament the previous weekend in Fort St. John. However, second-year Mustangs players Riley Smoler and Jesse McCuiag returned from injury for the series.
“I had a really strong effort from our captain Cooper, Jesse had a really good weekend – he’s kind of fighting an injury but he played well,” said Lawrie. “Riley Smoler was really good for us.”
Scoring in the three losses were Smoler, Gavin and two from Mackenzie Benn-Wipp.
“I thought it was very evenly matched; each game was a battle,” said Bulldogs head coach Mike Doucette. “Last night (on Saturday) they showed if we didn’t bring our best game, they really took it to us.
“I think the teams were very evenly matched. It was excellent hockey.”
Games between the Peewee B Mustangs and the Juneau Capitals got tighter each time they took to the ice.
After a 7-0 blowout for the Capitals on Friday, the Mustangs narrowed the spread with 6-3, 5-3 losses on Saturday and a 3-1 loss on Sunday.
“The boys were in tough, but they came back and battled hard,” said Mustangs head coach Ryan Hennings. “Friday night was a rough start for them and they lost a bit of confidence. But we had to work our way through that and understand what it takes to win – the effort and teamwork that’s required.
“Working through that we were able to battle better and even though we didn’t win, we put in some good games in the last two games.”
In the last two games the Mustangs took 1-0 leads before slipping behind. In the 5-3 loss on Saturday, the game was tied 3-3 going into the final minute and a half before two quick goals by the Capitals, who finished fourth in their division at last season’s Alaska state championship.
“Our goaltender Broden Cull really stood tall for us throughout the weekend,” said Hennings. “(Defenceman Samantha McLeod) really came to play and she battled hard. She is the only girl on the team, yet she fits right in and she really worked hard and impressed me.”
The previous weekend the Peewee B Mustangs won silver at the Wetaskiwin Peewee Challenge Tier 4 tournament an hour south of Edmonton.
The Juneau Capitals arrived a day early and left a day late to do some shopping and enjoy Whitehorse. The Bulldogs also made good use of their time in Yukon.
“It was an amazing experience right from day one,” added Doucette. “Right from the billet families meeting us at the airport, to dog sledding Friday morning, to three of us coaches bringing sticks, gloves and skates and finding an outdoor rink in a neighbourhood and playing shinny for a couple hours between games. The whole experience has been absolutely amazing. They welcomed us with open arms and it’s been fantastic.”
A total of 22 games took place, including 11 Whitehorse house league games, over the weekend at Takhini Arena.
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