Connor Johnston (right) of the Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs tries to get the puck past Martin Prchal of the Vancouver Thunderbirds in the opening game of the 41st annual Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament Friday morning at Civic Arena.

Connor Johnston (right) of the Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs tries to get the puck past Martin Prchal of the Vancouver Thunderbirds in the opening game of the 41st annual Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament Friday morning at Civic Arena.

Mustangs fall to Thunderbirds

Vernon Mustangs bow to Vancouver Thunderbirds in opener of 41st annual Coca-Cola Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament at Civic Arena.



Captain Reed Cashato was not about to sugarcoat his team’s opening performance Thursday morning in the 41st annual Coca-Cola Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament at Civic Arena.

Cashato scored once as the Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs lost 6-3 to the Vancouver Thunderbirds, but he was hardly smiling after Game 1 of the eight-team extravaganza.

“Absolute crap,” offered Cashato, asked to sum up the Mustangs’ showing. “We could have given a lot more out there. We had a lot of turnovers and a lot of stupid penalties. We quit and he (head coach Jason Danbrook) asked us to play harder next game (Thursday night versus the Spokane Jr. Chiefs).”

Vancouver, which finished sixth in their home league, a game under .500, got two goals apiece from Nicholas Varabioff and Greyson Valente. Singles came from Ryan Watt and Jamie Ambrose. Qin Litherland pocketed a pair of assists.

The Mustangs, who are last in the Okanagan Mainline League, received other goals from Matt Kowalski and Connor Johnston.

Vernon skated with the Thunderbirds, who held period leads of 3-2 and 4-2 and registered a pair of first-period powerplay tallies. The Mustangs took eight of 12 minors.

“I think if we had competed for 60 minutes, we could have beat them,” said Mustang defenceman Dylan Sedlacek. “We didn’t work hard enough and we were undisciplined. We had about five shifts in a row where we kept the puck in their end, but that wasn’t enough.”

The T-Birds, who were over the moon when they beat the Kamloops Jardine’s Blazers, in overtime, to win the Burnaby Winter Club tournament earlier this season, have three returnees, including 13-year-old captain Tyson Lin.

“Vernon works hard and they are nice and quick,” smiled Lin, a centre, who played spring rep hockey with the Mustangs’ Connor Johnston. “They’re hard on the attack. I thought our team played well. We have success when we work hard.”

Michael Davidson was in net for Vancouver, Shane Meadahl for Vernon.

The Mustangs finish preliminary play today at 3 p.m. against the Edmonton NWZ Raiders, who bounced Spokane 9-5 Thursday morning.

Brett Gammer and Trey Fix-Wolansky each scored twice for the Raiders, while Izaak Fersovich, Mitchell Babbik, Briar Whyte, Ryley Appelt and Troy Dudley supplied singles. Anthony Cuglietta provided four helpers.

Spokane got a deuce from Carter Jones and other goals from Dawson Tritt, Desmond Parisotto and Hayden Dick. Andrew Clark chipped in with three assists.

In Thursday afternoon action, the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies parlayed two-goal outings from Tanner Sidaway and Jordan Gulney into a 5-2 victory over the Bow Valley Flames of Calgary.

Brady Lynn also scored for the Island crew, who got three helpers from Nick Bulosic.

Zach Anderson had both goals for the Flames.

Edmonton faced Vancouver Thursday night, while Bow Valley meets the Seattle Sno-Kings at 8 a.m. today, followed by Juan de Fuca versus South Delta Storm at 10:15.

Spokane battles Vancouver at 3 p.m., Juan de Fuca tangles with Seattle at 5:30 and South Delta squares off against Bow Valley at 8 p.m.

The semifinals go Saturday at 12:30 and 2:45 p.m., with the A final Sunday at 6 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Retired NHL forward Eddie Johnstone is a host for Bow Valley…Civic Arena officials must have run out of red and blue paint. Nobody can see the bluelines or faceoff dots…Former NHL centre Brent Gilchrist is the guest speaker at the tournament banquet Saturday night at the Best Western Vernon Lodge…The tourney committee will give the special needs Vernon Scorehawks team $1,500 for new jerseys before they play an intermission scrimmage before the C final Sunday (2:45)…Ellison, Alexis Park and Lavington elementary schools received $200 apiece for sports programs from tourney officials. Those schools are sending multiple classes to cheer on various teams. Kidston students also sent classes…Edmonton area teams have won the Coke Classic six times.