Mustangs impress at B.C. tournaments
It’s been a busy month for hockey players in Whitehorse, as three Whitehorse Mustangs teams – U13, U15 and U18 – ventured to B.C. for the first Outside hockey tournaments in nearly two years for Yukon teams.
All three teams impressed with their play, and two returned to the Yukon as gold medal winners.
U18 wins gold at Cloverdale tournament
The U18 Whitehorse Mustangs made the trek to Surrey, B.C., earlier this month for the U18 C Memorial Tournament hosted by the Cloverdale Minor Association from Nov. 11-14, 2021.
Tournament action began for the Mustangs with a pair of games on Nov. 12.
In the first game for more than 21 months, the Mustangs came out firing with a 7-2 win over North Delta. Later that day, Whitehorse earned its second win by defeating the host Cloverdale team 4-2.
On Nov. 13, the Mustangs beat Coquitlam 4-0 and the Vancouver Thunderbirds 8-2, earning a spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinal against Port Moody on Nov. 14, Whitehorse turned in yet another solid performance to earn a 3-0 win and a place in the finals against Cloverdale.
Matching up again with the hosts, the Mustangs again emerged victorious after a 6-2 game to win gold.
The Vancouver Thunderbirds won bronze.
Michael Tuton, Mustangs head coach, said the team was more than ready to play competitive hockey as soon as they could.
“There was tons of excitement just to get on a plane again and head to a tournament after how many practices in a row,” Tuton said. “They guys practise at 6:30 in the morning twice a week, so just to get on the plane they were pretty fired up.”
While it was a total team effort all the way up and down the lineup, Tuton noted the goaltending from Fynn Ritchie and Josh Wanless was solid all weekend.
“They set the bar pretty high for the rest of the season,” Tuton said.
The team went undefeated, but Tuton said the win over Vancouver was probably the most impressive.
“It was a tie game in the third and we went down on a 5-on-3 (penalty kill),” Tuton said. “And instead of hitting the panic button because it was the closest game we’d had, we actually ended up scoring two shorthanded goals from our defencemen that were just using pure speed to blow up the ice.”
As if often the case, a little momentum goes a long way.
“Once that first one went in 3-2, they just got right back to the systems that we’ve been working on and that was it – I think the last five or six minutes we scored four or five goals,” Tuton said.
Golden weekend for U15 Mustangs
The U15 Whitehorse Mustangs A team were in Coquitlam, B.C., for the U15 A Gold Classic Tournament hosted by Coquitlam Minor Hockey from Nov. 11-14, 2021.
Competing in Tier 3, the Mustangs opened up action with an 8-0 win over Coquitlam on Nov. 11, following up with a 4-1 victory later than day against Victoria.
Whitehorse picked up where it left off on Nov. 12 with a 6-1 win over Kerry Park.
The team finished the round robin undefeated with a win 15-0 against Nanaimo T3 on Nov. 13 to secure a spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinals on Nov. 14, the Mustangs took on Oceanside where a 5-2 win punched their ticket to the gold medal game.
Powell River defeated Kerry Park in the other semifinal 3-1 to set up a final between the division’s only two undefeated teams.
The Mustangs beat Powell River 5-1 in the final held the afternoon of Nov. 14.
Bronze in the tournament went to Oceanside.
Mustangs turn heads at U13 tournament
The U13 Whitehorse Mustangs A team were in Langley, B.C., for the Gil Martin Memorial Tier 1 Hockey Tournament hosted by the Langley Minor Hockey Association from Nov. 11-14, 2021.
Although the team finished with an 0-4 record, head coach Shawn Fummerton said the team had lots to be proud of after its encounter with some of the province’s top Tier 1 AAA teams.
“Our team competed really well and really showcased and showed that we belong with the top teams in the province,” Fummerton said.
While most of the competition was second-year peewee players, the Whitehorse side was a mix of first- and second-year players – including many who didn’t have an opportunity to play together last winter due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Fummerton also credited the team’s goalies – Harrison Dolding and Taylor Green – for keeping the Mustangs in games despite facing 40 to 60 shots in each outing.
“They did remarkable,” Fummerton said. “A lot of spectators and a lot of other coaches have commented on not only how strong our team was but how well our goalies have played.”
The team’s best performance came in the final game against Salmon Arm, losing 7-5 after allowing a last-second empty-net goal.
Whitehorse was so impressive, in fact, a local team setup an additional exhibition game against the Mustangs before they returned home because of how well the team played, Fummerton explained.
The author is a coach for the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association in the U18 division.