Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

OVER THE PAD – Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs’ player Bryn Studney-Amos directs the puck past the CCHL goalie during an exhibition game Sunday at the Takhini Arena.

Whitehorse Mustangs take ice against adults

The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs have begun their season.

By Whitehorse Star on October 7, 2019

The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs have begun their season. They have already travelled, playing in a tournament in Abbotsford, B.C. and most recently, on Sunday afternoon at Takhini Arena the team took on a much older group of players from the Canyon City Hockey League (CCHL).

At the Abbotsford tournament, head coach Derek Johnstone said the team did “pretty well” coming in sixth.

“We got into a quarter-final against the top team which was pretty tough,” said Johnstone. “It was good competition. We did end up playing a couple of tight games which was sort of nice.”

The game held Sunday was a chance for the Mustangs to play against older athletes and to really test the young squad.

“We’ve handpicked and put an all-star team together from the CCHL here,” said Johnstone. “It gives us different games where we have to try a lot harder because we are playing against older guys.

“There is a little bit of contact, rubbing out and stuff like that. They are a pretty good group of guys so we can practice things like power play and penalty killing.”

Johnstone said it is often the case that young teams will play up some age groups and in doing so it helps the young athletes get better.

“You have to play against someone who is stronger to be stronger,” said Johnstone. “It’s unfortunate you don’t have enough people up here but that’s just the way it is up north. But if you can get the right group of guys together and you can play without getting run over or getting hurt it’s a bonus. It seems to be working out well.”

The Mustangs were the team to jump out to the lead as they were the only side to pot a goal in the first period. Conner Labar took a pass from Robbie Matthews and broke down the wing and shelved a shot over the shoulder of the CCHL goalie.

The Mustangs lead grew in the second. Bryn Studney-Amos potted a goal on a two-on-one. Labar added another for his second of the game as he banged in a rebound and Cooper King capitalized on a defensive miscue for the Mustangs’ third goal of the period.

Picking up assists on the goals were Jase Johnstone, Cassie Cebuliak and Zander Underhill.

With the period winding down the CCHL side was able to get one goal back to make it 4-1.

In net for the Mustangs was Kieran Mooney who had impressive saves in a variety of situations.

He was strong in the scrums in front and stopped several breakaways.

The CCHL squad broke open the third period as they potted five goals in the final frame. Labar’s hat trick goal late in the frame made it close but it was the adults who were up 6-5 at the final buzzer.

Johnstone said he was pleased with how the Mustangs played and sees some areas the team will need to shore up before their next tournament.

“It was good, we played well,” said Johnstone. “We had a couple of let-downs. We just have to learn to get stronger on the puck and timing to areas to get pucks out but it’s getting better.

“We have to get faster and they are realizing that after the last tournament. We can almost compete with the middle of the pack so we have to really learn to get above that area. Just harder on pucks and doing the little things and being solid in our own end but we are getting there.”

The Mustangs have a tough act to follow this year. Last season, they won the gold medal in the B.C. Championships peewee tier three division on Vancouver Island.

There is still a core of players from the gold-winning team, while others have decided to play for the Yukon Rivermen.

“We have a good little group here and I think we’ll do alright in the next couple of tournaments and it gives us something to look forward to,” said Johnstone.

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