More success for Mustangs teams

The busy start to the season continued for hockey players with the Whitehorse Mustangs as both the U13 A and U15 B teams were in B.C. for successful tournament showings over the past couple weeks. The U13 team won gold last weekend in Abbotsford, B.C., and the U15 squad won silver in Enderby, B.C., at the end of November.

Mustangs win in Abbotsford

The U13 Whitehorse Dairy Queen Mustangs hockey team won gold in Tier 2 of the Peewee Rep Tournament hosted by the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association in Abbotsford, B.C., on Dec. 5, 2021. (Transin Park/Submitted)

The U13 Whitehorse Mustangs A hockey team turned in an impressive performance at the Peewee Rep Tournament hosted by the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association from Dec. 3 to 5, 2021, winning the Tier 2 division in thrilling fashion.

Action got underway early on Dec. 3 with a morning contest against the host Abbotsford team, as the Mustangs dropped a 4-2 decision in the first game action of the weekend.

Head coach Shawn Fummerton explained the Mustangs were in tough, having had a long day of travel and little time to get settled prior to puck drop.

“The kids had a full day of school, then a long flight and bus ride out there, so it was kind of to be expected,” Fummerton said of the slow start. “We didn’t play our best but that we were going to be able to compete in this tournament.”

That afternoon, the Mustangs rebounded with a solid 5-1 win over Aldergrove.

“We got off to a strong start and were up 4-0 or 5-0 in the first period and were able to coast to victory in that game,” he said, adding that the game was tight for the final two periods. “It was a back and forth game after that, so I think we might have caught them napping that day, too.”

On day two of the tournament, Whitehorse lost its final round-robin game 3-1 to Burnaby. Luckily for the Mustangs, the team played well enough and allowed few enough goals to earn a berth in the semifinals as the fourth seed.

In Sunday’s semifinal, the Mustangs had a chance for revenge against Abbotsford and the visiting Yukoners steamrolled to a 7-0 win.

“Our team was focused, ready, determined and seeking redemption,” Fummerton said. “Once again in that game, we jumped out strong, scored a couple early goals, and then just continued that momentum throughout the day.”

The Mustangs had another opportunity for revenge facing off with Burnaby in the final.

Whitehorse started slow – going down 3-0 after the first period – but managed to swing the momentum in the second, clawing one back to cut the score to 3-1 after two periods.

“We slowly felt the momentum really in the second period start to turn our way and we were really outworking them,” Fummerton said about the team’s hard work.

After another Mustangs goal cut the lead to 3-2 in the third, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.

Down one with a five-on-four powerplay and only seconds remaining, Whitehorse pulled the goalie for a two-man advantage. The Mustangs scored the equalizer near the end of regulation, and Fummerton said his staff knew the team had the advantage heading into the four-on-four overtime.

“We looked at our kids and the coaching staff said, ‘We’re excited,'” Fummerton said. “‘We know we’re going to get this.’ We’ve seen the determination and hardwork in our kids and we knew that they were going to do whatever they could to succeed.”

And that’s how it played out.

The Mustangs earned a quality scoring chance and won the tournament with a come-from-behind overtime win.

For any team to avenge two tournament losses in one weekend is impressive, doubly so for a group of young players who’ve had limited game experience in the past couple years.

“We have a good balance of first- and second-year kids. Some kids have played in some big games before and the kids knew that they didn’t play their best, especially in that first Abbotsford game, but we’ve been preaching to them all year long about hard work,” Fummerton said. “They just didn’t give up. They had the spirit the whole weekend, even when things seemed like we were down and out in that game. They just kept on pushing and kept on trying their hardest.”

Hockey is a team game, but two players played big roles for the Mustangs.

Captain Treytin Frizzell carried the scoring load for Whitehorse, notching eight goals and three assists for 11 points in just five games.

On the defensive side of things, goaltender Harrison Dolding was a standout allowing just one goal in two and three-quarters of a game, including a shutout in the semifinal and another perfect effort in the second, third, and overtime periods of the final.

“That gave our kids the belief that they knew they just needed to get a couple to get us going,” Fummerton said about Dolding’s performance.

Second place for U15 team at tournament

The U15 Whitehorse Mustangs B hockey team finished second in a bantam recreational tournament hosted by the North Okanagan Minor Hockey Association in Enderby, B.C., on Nov. 28, 2021. (Submitted photo)

The U15 Whitehorse Mustangs B team travelled to Enderby, B.C., for a bantam recreational tournament from Nov. 26 to 28, 2021, hosted by the North Okanagan Minor Hockey Association, winning silver.

Whitehorse built a 3-1 lead in the second period of the opening game against the North Okanagan Knights, but the host team rallied to tie the game in the third period. With time winding down, Zephyr Bingham scored the gamewinner for the Mustangs to secure a 4-3 win.

Game two had a similar start for the Mustangs, resulting in a 3-1 lead over Kelowna after two periods. In the third though, Whitehorse was able to continue their momentum and earned a 5-3 win through solid team play, passing and discipline.

The Mustangs wrapped up the round robin with a decisive victory against Williams Lake.

A 3-0 record was good enough to be seeded second in the playoffs, setting up a semifinal between the Mustangs and the third-seed Salmon Arm team. Another solid showing from the Mustangs earned a 5-3 win.

The fourth-seed Knights upset the top seed Vernon in the other semifinal, setting up a rematch of the opening game in the final.

Whitehorse took a 2-1 lead in the final, but the home team scored five unanswered goals to win 6-2.

Three Mustangs were in the top 10 of tournament scoring – Owen Hogan second with seven goals adn one assist, Riley Bulmer sixth with three goals and four assists, and Sam Watson eighth with six goals and one assist – and goaltender Ray Stalder was the top goalie with four wins and a 2.88 goals against average.

Northern showdown

Whitehorse residents have been starved of local competitive hockey since the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games in 2020, but that hunger will soon be satiated as the Northern Cup is set to return to Whitehorse from Jan. 28 to 30, 2022.

Over that weekend, the Yellowknife Wolfpack will send U13, U15 and U18 teams to take on the Whitehorse Mustangs in the first round of a home and home series.

Yellowknife will host the Mustangs later on in the winter, with the right to claim bragging rights and hockey supremacy on the line.

Editor’s note

The author is a coach for the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association in the U18 division.