The Yellowknife Wolfpack had more hockey experience, more players, a home-ice advantage and the score reflected it.
The Yukon Female Mustangs went winless against their territorial rivals at the Arctic Female Challenge in Yellowknife, N.W.T., over the weekend.
“We got our butts kicked on the scoreboard, but the girls played pretty decent actually,” said Mustangs coach John Grant.
“We were missing a few players, we took 13 over, and they had a good weekend.”
“Northwest Territories basically have the same team that they did last year, they haven’t lost any players really, so they’re pretty strong,” he added.
The series opened with a 9-2 loss for the Mustangs. Forward Maddie Nicholson scored both for Yukon, assisted by Cayman Oestreich on the first one and Haley McConnell and Destiny Taylor on the second.
Game 2 ended 9-1 for the Wolfpack. Nicholson sniped another, assisted by Oestreich and Ecko Kirk.
After a 10-0 loss in Game 3, the Mustangs got back on the board with an 11-2 loss in Game 4. Forward Joy Morin scored for Yukon, assisted by Oestreich and Nicholson, who scored the second one unassisted.
It was quite a learning experience for Mustangs goalie Ashton Clooten, who has only been playing the position for about a month, said Grant.
“We have a brand new goalie and she had quite and education,” he said. “She had some good moments and some not-good moments, but it’s part of the learning process – it’s not an easy position to learn … It’s one of the toughest positions in sport to learn. You can see potential there. I always look for potential.”
In addition to losing a number of top players from last season, from players aging out or going to school, the Mustangs’ roster was whittled down further by various circumstances – a wedding, a birthday party, a knee surgery.
“We had some young players that we picked up this year and this was basically their first time traveling and they actually did pretty decent,” said Grant. “You could see the improvements. I was pretty happy with the effort.”
“We were real short on veterans but they’ll be back ready for the next one,” said Grant.
For the final game of the weekend, the Mustangs and Wolfpack mixed the teams up for a friendly game. It ended with a tight 9-8 score.
“The girls had a blast,” said Grant. “You couldn’t find better hosts. They were absolutely magnificent there. The other coaches treated us first-class. The girls had a great time – they did a lot of other activities besides hockey.”
As is often the case, the midget-age Mustangs squad contains good representation from Yukon communities. The roster includes three from Haines Junction, one from Dawson City, one from Burwash Landing, two from Teslin and, for the first time since 2007, a player from Watson Lake with winger Anna Lund.
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