For Jenna Clendenning, any day is a good day for hockey.
But to strap on the blades and take part in an event named in memory of her father brought her appreciation for the chance to play to a whole different level.
“This weekend definitely meant a lot to me,” Clendenning said about the inaugural Scott Clendenning Memorial Showcase held over the weekend at the Ice For Kids Arena, which replaced the Muskie girls’ hockey team’s annual home tournament.
“It showed how everyone wanted to come together to support his memory.”
Scott Clendenning spent the past four seasons lifting the Muskie girls’ hockey program to unprecedented heights—capping it with a silver medal at the OFSAA ‘A/AA’ championships in Kenora back in March.
Four days later, the much-respected coach died of a heart attack while vacationing in Mexico.
“It’s a great honour to be part of this,” said Muskie assistant captain Sam McKinnon, whose team finished the event with a 3-1 record.
“That’s who we play for,” she stressed. “It’s for Scott all the time.
“This weekend is a reminder of what kind of person he was.”
That extra emotion surrounding the weekend might have had something to do with the Muskies slipping out of the gate in a 3-2 opening loss to the Thunder Bay Midget ‘A’ Queens.
“Friday’s game, there was probably some nerves happening,” conceded Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton.
“But they played well as the game went on and built their confidence.”
The Queens struck first just over four minutes into the game on a goal by Amanda Pages.
But less than three minutes later, Annalise “CC” Hayes replied for the Muskies on a set-up from Rylee Redford and Clendenning.
After a scoreless second period, Hayes set up rookie Siobhan Mackintosh with 3:38 to go to make it 2-1.
But the Queens refused to roll over—tying the game on Caitlyn Arella’s goal 34 seconds later and then, just 35 seconds after that, getting the game-winner from Breanna Veneruz.
The Muskies decided to channel their late-game frustration into an all-game avalanche of offence in an 11-0 rout of the Kenora Broncos on Saturday morning.
Fort High went wild in a seven-goal first period that featured a hat trick from Redford and the first-ever Muskie goal for rookie Hanna LeDrew.
Hayes, Taylor Croswell, and captain Rachel Jean had the other Muskie goals in the frame.
Croswell added her second of the game in the middle stanza to make it 8-0.
Reece McQuaker then provided some more first-year impact with her initial high school goal in the third.
Redford and Jean later tallied to close out the scoring.
Muskie goalie Sydney Beck bounced back from a tough ending against Thunder Bay to record the shutout.
The highlight game of the weekend featured Fort High taking on the Dryden Eagles, whom they’ve beaten in the last two NorWOSSA finals, on Saturday afternoon.
Dryden delivered the opening salvo with just over eight minutes left in the first on a goal by Darra Zieroth.
But McKinnon’s point shot found its way through a maze of players in front to beat Eagles’ goalie Hannah Zilkalns two minutes later.
Dryden regained the lead with 4:45 left in the second on a close-in chance converted by Syd Allen.
But Emma Noga netted a clutch tally just 46 seconds before intermission to tie the game again.
The teams went back and forth in the third before McKinnon’s rocket from the point at the 4:47 mark squeaked through the pads of Zilkalns and dribbled just over the goal line.
“I just tried to keep the shot along the ice so it didn’t hit any bodies in front,” noted McKinnon.
“It just happened to work.”
Fort High added some
insurance when Sara Jackson blocked a shot and subsequently sent Janelle Kaemingh and Croswell racing away for a 2-on-1.
Kaemingh’s pass across was a thing of beauty, with Croswell adding the finishing touch for a 4-2 final.
“Winning that game really sets the tone for us this season,” said McKinnon.
“Now we know we can beat them [Dryden] and if we play our best, we can beat them by a lot,” she noted.
“We want to make them worried to play us.”
“I think we came out with more energy against Dryden,” said Hamilton.
“If you don’t match the other team’s energy, that’s when things go wrong.”
The Muskies then closed out play by dumping the Sioux Lookout Warriors 13-2 on Sunday.
Croswell had a hat trick in that one, with no less than 15 Muskies registering at least one point.
LeDrew, Noga, and Hayes all added a pair of goals while Mackintosh, Clendenning, Jean, and McQuaker netted singles.
Beck was perfect for two periods, then gave way at the start of the third to back-up goalie Harleigh Brow-Rose, who was filling in for Marissa Loveday for the weekend.
The Warriors immediately went after the new goalie, with Sydney MacDonald bursting between the two Muskie blueliners and zipping a shot past Brow-Rose just nine seconds into the period.
“There’s going to be some lulls in a game like that,” admitted Muskie assistant coach and teacher rep Tressa Galusha.
“That’s why we’re mixing lines right now and trying to find that right chemistry for the girls.”
Savannah Kirton had the other goal for the Warriors.
The Muskies next head to Duluth to face the Duluth-Marshall Hilltoppers in a two-game exhibition series Nov. 13-14.
Fort High’s next home game will be their pre-season finale against the Woodbury (Mn.) Royals on Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.