The Watkin Motors Mustangs gather around their B.C. Pee Wee Tier 2 hockey championship banner in North Vancouver. (Tim Milne Photo)

Mustangs take provincial title

Ambush Trail 10-2 in gold-medal game

The Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs ambushed the Trail Smoke Eaters 10-2 in the gold-medal final of the BC Hockey Pee Wee Tier 2 Hockey Championships Wednesday night in North Vancouver.

The Mustangs capping an undefeated season as JJ Milne and captain Cosmo Wilson each netted hat tricks in support of Matthew Kuhnlein. Milne led the nine-team tournament with 14 goals.

“The boys came into provincials with one goal only and that was winning the title,” said Watkin Motors head coach Taylor Wilson. “They meant business from the very first puck drop. We definitely showed why we were the No. 1 ranked Tier 2 team coming into the tournament.”

Erik Pastro, who finished with a dozen assists, rang up 1+2 for Vernon, while singles came from Brayden Schwaerzle, Kyle Wheeler and Theo Van Wyk.

Milne supplied 2+1 and Deagan McMillan also scored twice as the Mustangs bounced Burnaby Winter Club 5-1 in semifinal play Wednesday. Pastro also converted with Austin Seibel earning the win.

The Mustangs were fired up for the championship game against Trail (3-2 in round-robin) and jumped out to a 5-0 first-period lead. Milne nailed a first-frame hat-trick leading the Mustangs to a quick start. Wilson played a stellar game on the blue line, consistently thwarting the Trail attack and notching three goals.

“It was great to see our leadership group step up during this run, whether on or off the ice,” said coach Wilson. “Our team game was the best I’ve seen all season.”

The Mustangs went 3-0-1 in round-robin play, defeating Fort St. John 9-2, Prince George 10-0 and Cranbrook 9-2. The only blemish on Mustangs record was a 3-3 tie with North Shore Winter Club in its first game.

Added Wilson, assisted by Derek Martin and Clint Nyberg. “I’m super proud of our entire team and the way they played through the season, playoffs and all the way to provincials.”

Said Milne: “We’ve been playing together for a long time and it felt really good to pull it off,” said Milne. “We have some great leadership on our team and we all worked hard.”

JJ Milne, Zac Milne, Wilson, Brady Kuziw and Zac Casagrande pulled a stellar provincial double since all five were key members of the Pee Wee A2 North Okanagan Legends, who struck lacrosse gold in Fort St. John last summer.

Vernon won the Coca-Cola Classic event for the third year in a row during the Vernon Winter Carnival and won the Okanagan Mainline title at 14-0-2.

The rest of the Mustangs’ roster: Ryder DeNys, Marcel Green, Logan Killingbeck, Hudson Kibblewhite, Riley Cormier.

At the B.C. Tier 3 Midget Provincials in West Vancouver, Powell River defeated Mission 3-1 in the championship game.

The Okanagan champion Vernon Coca-Cola Vipers went 1-1-1, which was not good enough to secure a semifinal spot.

Vernon finished the year with an astounding 55-1-1 record. The only team to beat Vernon was Squamish in the opening game of the provincials.

Squamish fell 4-3 to Mission in one semifinal, then lost the bronze-medal game, 5-3, to Terrace. Powell River toppled Terrace 7-2 in the other semifinal.

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