With two Alaskan teams playing for gold, the bronze game was the one to watch for local fans at the Whitehorse Peewee Invitational Hockey Tournament at the Canada Games Centre on April 30.
Two Whitehorse teams fought for the bronze and it was a doozy.
The Whitehorse Huskies atom development team defeated the Black Aces 2-1 with a third-period comeback as cheers and screams rained down from the stands.
“We came out a little flat this morning (in the semifinal), were a little disappointed about not making it to the final, but this was a hard-fought game against the Aces in town here,” said Huskies coach Justin Halowaty. “Their goalies played outstanding and we finally put enough pucks to the net to get the win.”
The Huskies, an atom spring team playing up a division in peewee, took the win with two goals in the final five minutes.
Down 1-0, Huskies’ Jase Johnstone passed from behind the net to Gavin McKenna to tie it with 4:56 left in regulation.
Huskies forward Luke Cozens then went end to end, scoring on a wraparound for the game winner with 2:27 left on the clock. McKenna, who was named his team’s Player of the Game, got the assist.
“All the kids played well, helped us out to get this win today,” said Halowaty.
The Huskies went 4-0 in the round robin — with wins over all three visiting Alaskan teams — and went into the playoffs as the top seed. They beat Palmer 7-3, the Black Aces 7-5, the Juneau Capitals 5-2, the Anchorage Comets 2-1, before losing 4-2 to the Capitals in the semifinal.
“Six games in a three-day span is a lot of hockey,” said Halowaty. “The kids stuck together and played well. For them to come out ahead like we didn’t this morning shows a lot of perseverance.”
The third place finish was the second in a row for the Huskies. They also won bronze in a tournament in Vancouver the previous weekend. They are traveling to another tournament in Kelowna, B.C. this coming weekend.
The Black Aces’ goal in the bronze game, scored in the first period, came from Austin Kirk, assisted by Jacob Nickel.
Goalies Ben Power and Alex Arsenault shared their team’s Player of the Game award.
The Black Aces is a team made up of players who didn’t play for the Yukon Mustangs rep program over the season, but are still high caliber players.
“This tournament was created because we have a lot of kids in Whitehorse minor hockey who love to play a slightly higher level of competition than we have in our house league, where we develop players and try to introduce kids to the game,” said tournament organizer and Black Aces coach Murray Arsenault. “The tournament started because we built a team called the Black Aces in the 10- and 11-year-old peewee division … and we were going to take them out to a tournament but we were a little late.”
The Anchorage Comets went on to take gold with a 4-3 win over the Juneau Capitals.
Anchorage’s Caden San Juan scored in the second period to tie the game 1-1. Teammate CJ Hoff completed a natural hat trick late in the third period for the win.
Karter Kohlhase, Joseph Meier and Reed Loree scored for Juneau in the final.
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