Sean Richards scored three times to pace the Vancouver Thunderbirds to a 13-2 romp over the host Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs in the opening game of the 48th annual Vernon Winter Carnival Coca Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament Thursday morning in front of a huge crowd at Kal Tire Place North.
The stands were packed with parents and students from Vernon elementary schools.
Richards and Aidan Mukai gave the T-Birds a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game before Maguire Nicholson got Vernon to within a goal with a great individual rush, culminating with an inside-outside move and a bar-down shot over Vancouver goalie Ethan Ma’s left shoulder. Tyson Matthews drew an assist.
Richards completed his hat trick before the end of the frame, giving Vancouver a 4-1 advantage at the intermission.
Goals from Luka Shcherbyna and Tristan Ferris in the second period extended the Thunderbirds’ lead to 6-1. Vancouver then scored seven times in the final 20 minutes, goals coming from William McIsaac, Ryan Gurney (2), Jean-Loup Leonardon, Shcherbyna, Jared Chin and Louie Sim.
Charlie Swartz got Vernon’s second goal at 3:43 of the third, assists going to Jeffrey Curtis and Devon Sales-Parno.
Zachary Bouchard was under siege for most of the game in the Vernon goal and played well.
The Mustangs took on the Los Angeles Kings from California in the featured game of opening day at 5:30 p.m.
Other games opening day have the Kings playing the St. Albert Stars, and the Stars taking on Vancouver in Coca Cola Division play.
In the Sun Valley Division, the Edmonton Canadians play the Port Moody Panthers and the Yellowknife Wolfpack face the California Wave.
All games are at Kal Tire Place North.
The Mustangs are trying to win the tournament for the fourth year in a row. Vernon beat Yellowknife 9-5 in last year’s championship.