Mustangs primed for Coke Classic

The 47th Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament opens Thursday

Nobody in the Okanagan Valley can beat them.

The Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs take their eye-popping 14-0-3 league record into the 47th annual Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament where teams from Alberta, California and Yellowknife will provide a new challenge.

The Mustangs open the Coke Classic Thursday at 8 a.m. against the Edmonton Knights of Columbus Lancers. All games in the eight-team extravaganza are at Civic Arena which will be demolished later this year.

Vernon returns eight players from last year’s tournament gold-medal squad: goaltenders Austin Seibel and Matthew Kuhnlein, defencemen Cosmo Wilson and Riley Cormier and forwards Deagan McMillan, JJ Milne, Kyle Wheeler and Erik Pastro.

Five members of the Mustangs are gunning for double provincial gold this season. JJ and Zac Milne, Wilson, Zack Casagrande and Brady Kuziw were members of the North Okanagan Pee Wee Legends who won the B.C. box lacrosse title in Fort St John in August.

The Mustangs grabbed sole sole possession of first place in the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association Pee Wee Tier 2 league with a 6-2 drubbing of West Kelowna Warriors Sunday at Kal Tire Place.

Pastro (2+2) and McMillan (2+1) led the Mustangs in front of Kuhnlein. Wheeler and Theo Van Wyk supplied singles, while Hudson Kibblewhite pocketed two assists.

“We played our best team game of the year,” said Mustang head coach Taylor Wilson. “We had some beauty tic-tac-toe goals and Matthew played an amazing game…the type of game we need to go deep in playoffs. It was finally a game where we connected all the dots,”

The Mustangs will be trying to pull a Coke Classic three-peat after defeating Chilliwack in 2017 and Idaho the year before. The Mustangs took the Amy Myles Memorial A event trophy from 2006-08 for Vernon’s first three-peat. Vernon teams have won the tourney eight times.

Former Mustangs who made the NHL include: Brent Gilchrist, Jeff Finley, Jason Podollan, Brad Larsen, Matt Higgins, Jerred Smithson, Andrew Ebbett and Curtis Lazar.

Matt Barzal, now of the New York Islanders, played in the 2009 Coke Classic with Burnaby Winter Club, 9-8 losers to Calgary in the A final.

The San Diego Saints meet the Coquitlam Chiefs in Thursday’s 10:15 a.m. tournament game, while the Yellowknife Wolfpack battle the South Delta Storm at 12:30 p.m.

The Sherwood Park Aces tangle with the Calgary Warriors at 2:45 p.m. with the Mustangs facing San Diego in the 5:45 p.m. feature game. Opening ceremonies are at 5:30. Coquitlam plays Edmonton at 8 p.m.

Vernon closes preliminary play Friday against Coquitlam at 5 p.m. The A final goes Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

The Sun Valley Source For Sports Vipers tied the Salmon Arm Silvertips 1-1 in Bantam Tier 3 play Sunday afternoon at Priest Valley Arena.

It was a fast-paced, back-and-forth goaltending duel which saw Teja Sheldrake play phenomenal in net for the Vipers. Bennett Kuhnlein scored for the Snakes, set up by linemates Chris Reinhardt and Reilly Teager. Maddex Minard and Nolan Thomas played extremely physical games, while Tyler Burke and Brock Holliday turned in some dynamic defensive plays.

The North Zone Kings (Bantam Tier 1) smacked the Spokane Jr. Chiefs 4-1 and 9-0 in exhibition games Saturday in Midway.

Grayson Williamson pulled the hat trick and Nick Noren also converted in the series opener. Austin Roest supplied three assists with Ethin Campbell solid in net with 28 saves.

The Kings took an early lead in Game 2 and Spokane collapsed with Devin Jameson producing three goals and Roest collecting 2+2.

Jarred Feist, Nolan Matthews, Matthew Johnston and Ezra Chan added singles in support of Gabriel Murrells-Allaway (21 stops).

In Midget Tier 1 play, the North Zone Kings lost 5-3 and tied 2-2 against the first-place Prince George Cougars at Civic Arena.

The Kings trailed 2-0 early in the second period Saturday before Lee Christensen connected with a high-slot wrister, assists going to Eric Noren and Joe Eggert. Within two minutes, the Kings levelled the score with Lucas Wood’s back-door pass to Damian Coljee-Fehr for the tap in. Midway through the third, Christensen’s slapper from the hashmarks, from Eggert and Noren, completed the Kings’ attack.

The Kings opened the scoring Sunday morning with a beautiful breakout play by Noren and Eggert which led to a cross-net snipe by Dylan Sedlacek. Coljee-Fehr connected on a scramble, banking in a shot after a feed from Caden Bracken, for the Kings’ final goal. Nic Teale rang one off the cross bar.

The Kings entertain the Thompson Blazers Saturday, 7:15 p.m., at Civic Arena.

The Coca-Cola Vipers bounced the host Kamloops Blazers 6-2 on Super Bowl Sunday at Memorial Arena.

Lincoln Connor rang up 2+1 as the Vipers ran their league record t0 12-0. Jaden Foster went the distance in net.


Mustangs, Knights rule B.C.

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