All eyes will be on Dryden the rest of this week as our Muskies look to win another gold medal at the all-Ontario hockey championships there.
The black-and-gold, ranked 10th in the 20-team field, gave a valiant effort this morning against the second-seeded Ridley Tigers, jumping out to several leads before succumbing 5-4.
Despite the loss, giving one of the favourites a run for their money, coupled with the fact the Muskies don’t have to hit the ice again until tomorrow at 8 a.m. against 15th-ranked St. Pius (Ottawa), bodes well for the team to finish among the top two in Pool ‘B’ to qualify for the quarter-finals that start Friday afternoon.
Still, it won’t be easy. The Muskies will need to win their next three games, including one against seventh-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Cardinals (Brampton) in their final pool game Friday morning, to all but guarantee a berth in the playoff round.
Then again, winning provincial gold—as the Muskies did in 1986 and again here in 1989—isn’t supposed to be a cakewalk.
Clearly, the team can score goals—both while compiling a 14-2 record in NorWOSSA play this season and then winning two playoff series against Red Lake and Dryden. Where the Muskies have had problems of late, evident in this morning’s loss and against the Eagles in the NorWOSSA final earlier this month, is their ability to hold onto a lead.
The black-and-gold need to play full out for a full game every game to be successful at OFSAA this year. Fortunately, playing only three 15-minute periods (compared to 20-minute frames in NorWOSSA) should benefit them.
Their schedule, as head coach Glen Edwards has pointed out, also should help. A day’s break between their first and second game, and then having a game at 5 p.m. Thursday and one Friday at 8 a.m., should allow the team plenty of time to rest up.
Not having to endure an 20-hour plus bus ride to southern Ontario is an advantage, too.
The Muskies have the talent to win, and they know what it will take to triumph. But more important, they have shown the heart and determination to pull through when the chips are down.
And that may be the key between playing on Saturday and taking the bus back home after Friday morning’s game.
The Muskies also can rest assured all of Rainy River District is behind them. Go, team, go!