New Mustangs’ 19U Tier II team exceeding expectations in first season
The New Mexico Mustangs’ 19U Tier II team is breaking down barriers on the way to providing a major boost to the game in the state.
In its first season as a Tier II team, the Mustangs’ 19U team is playing with confidence and, more importantly, as a team.
“The best part of this team is they play for and support each other,” said Mustangs 19U coach Floyd Braaten. “Captain Olivia Schultz and assistants Kylie Phillips and Mattie Arellano make sure that everyone is part of everything we do, doesn’t matter if they are part of the core or new to the Mustangs. All the families, as well as the organization as a whole, has been very supportive and are excited to go to Rocky Mountain Districts to prove that we can put a competitive team on the ice.”
Marina Meneakis, an assistant with the 19U team who played tier and college hockey, loves what she has seen out of the team this season.
“Given the circumstances of building a tier program for the first time out of New Mexico, the season has gone considerably well and continues to improve,” said Meneakis. “The girls have put in an exceptional amount of work, on and off the ice, and strive to progress and grow with both their personal and team skill sets every day. They continue to excel and adapt given the unique environment we were all challenged with.”
Having a 19U team at the rec level for the last 10 years, the Mustangs decided the lateral move to Tier II was the most logical jump to make.
“About five years ago, the coaches noticed the core group of this team playing 12U and the hope was that we could keep them in the program so that when they all hit the 19U division, that would be the core of the first Mustangs national-bound team,” Braaten said. “We lost a few along the way, but that core of 10 kids is what makes this team go.”
Of the 19 players on the team, there are four 2002 birth year players with the rest made up of 2004- and 2005-born players.
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 3, 2020)