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Coyotes take fifth at Winter Classic

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | February 8, 2024 5:07 PM

MOSES LAKE — After beginning pool play with an 0-1-1 record, the 18U Moses Lake Coyotes closed out last weekend’s Winter Classic tournament with back-to-back wins to place fifth in their home tournament.

“It’s always our favorite,” Coyotes Coach Paul Davies said of the Winter Classic. “We love being able to play new teams and especially play on our home ice. We’re really proud of it.”

The Winter Classic, which the Moses Lake Youth Hockey Association has hosted since 2012, brought in numerous teams from Washington’s west side and down from Canada.

“We play in other tournaments, and we play the same teams that we see all year long,” Davies said. “To see someone new — different talent, different skill level — is kind of the treat of the whole thing.”

Moses Lake opened the tournament with a 7-2 loss to the Vancouver Spirit on Friday night.

“We had a slow start, but that team was an extremely disciplined Vancouver team,” Davies said. “They ended up taking second in the tournament, so it was an eye-opener for the team to see that next step up in Canada talent level.”

Saturday morning, the Coyotes returned to the ice to face off against the Seattle Junior Spartans in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw.

“A very talented team, a very tough team to play,” Davies said. “We skated much better, we were winning the battles a lot better. To claw away and get the tie – we were happy with the tie. We could have won it, for sure, but we were happy with the progress we made compared to that Friday’s game.”

Moses Lake’s first win of the tournament came later Saturday evening, defeating Sno-King 4-2 courtesy of two third-period goals by Travis Shearer. All of the Coyote goals against Sno-King came on penalty kills.

The Coyotes struggled with penalties throughout the tournament, Davies said.

“That was a tough team, and we struggled all weekend with penalties,” Davies said. “We had a lot of penalty minutes that made all of our games a lot more difficult than they should have been. We’re glad to take the win, but we’re always trying to get better and (take) less penalties.”

The goal difference, combined with the number of penalty minutes, meant the Coyotes lost out on the tiebreaker that could have had them playing in Sunday’s third/fourth-place game. Instead, the Coyotes took fifth place in the tournament after once again defeating the Spartans in a 3-0 game.

“It was a bittersweet win,” Davies said. “We wanted to do a little bit better than we did; we played well, but we would have preferred to not be in that fifth/sixth game and try to get in that third/fourth, but overall, we did well.”

Shearer finished the game with a hat trick, though Davies said the Coyotes hope to spread the scoring around by avoiding penalty minutes.

“It’s tough to have that deeper scoring when you have the same kids out there trying to kill that penalty,” Davies said. “(Shearer) did excellent, scored those three goals, but we would prefer to get deeper scoring (by) having more players out there.”

Last weekend’s Winter Classic was Moses Lake’s final tournament of the season, though the Coyotes have upcoming games against Tri-Cities on Saturday and Moscow on Sunday at the Larsen Rec Center. Puck drop against Tri-Cities is at 10:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. against Moscow on Sunday.

“We have to come off, right off the bat as fast as we can with our speed and we have to stay out of the penalty box,” Davies said.

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

    The Vancouver Thunderbirds finished on top of last weekend’s Moses Lake Youth Hockey Association Winter Classic. The Thunderbirds were one of three Canadian teams to travel to Moses Lake.