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Muskie boys use balanced attack to rout Broncos

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Teamwork makes the dream work and it was all hands on deck for the Muskie boys' hockey team last Tuesday night against the visiting Kenora Broncos.

The Muskies flexed their offensive muscles, getting goals from 10 different skaters as they cruised to a 16-1 rout of the Broncos in their annual “Parents' Night” game at the Ice For Kids Arena.

Muskie head coach Chris Sinclair said he was most impressed with how well-balanced his team's attack was in the lopsided win.

“Putting up 16 goals is very impressive and to me, the most impressive is how we scored them,” he remarked.

"There wasn't many weak goals that we scored, we were moving the puck, making them chase us, and making the goalie move and finding ourselves with empty-net tap-in goals because of those reasons.

So yeah, as a coaching staff we were very impressed with not only the quantity of offence, but the chances we created."

Affiliate player Landon Lowes and Kaden Kocuiba both netted hat tricks to pace the Muskies' onslaught last Tuesday night here, as Fort High improved to a league-best 9-0 in NorWOSSA play.

Mikel Ward, Josh Ward and Lowes all found the back of the net in the first period as the Muskies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Captain Reed Bodnar then scored twice while Jacob Albright, affiliate player Brandon Croswell and Kocuiba also lit the lamp in the second to push it to an eight-goal cushion after 40 minutes.

“We feel that we have found success in NorWOSSA because of all the competitive games that we have played away from our league,” Sinclair reasoned.

"The games against the [Thunder Bay] Kings, the tournaments in Manitoba and especially the games in Duluth, have impacted our game greatly.

“It's games like these where if you make a mistake, the puck is in the back of your net,” he noted.

"Or if you're not moving your feet, you're going to get beat. If you're not hard on your stick, you're going to lose the battle, etc.

“So, playing in these games forces us to make the right play and when we do make a mistake, it ends up costing us,” Sinclair added.

“I would say lots of our success comes from learning from our mistakes playing in higher level games.”

Lowes scored a pair of power-play goals in the third while Kocuiba potted a pair in the third to cap their hat tricks.

The Muskies also got tallies from Josh Ward, affiliate player Dylan Tessier, Jace Jackson and Nolan Mann to round out the scoring.

Jaden Cooper was solid in garnering the win in goal over Kevin Holmstrom of the Broncos.

Sinclair said he has been pleased with how his affiliate players have contributed to the team so far this season and lauded the impact they made in last Tuesday's win on home ice.

“NorWOSSA rules state that for a player to be eligible for playoffs and OFSAA, they must play in three games during the season, so that was kind of our goal, to get those kids into three league games throughout the year in the case that we need them to play later on,” he explained.

"I thought all three of them had a very strong game [last] Tuesday, all getting on the scoresheet, especially Landon Lowes who netted a hat trick.

“But even in games previously, they have all played really well and shown that they can play at this level, which is great to see,” he enthused.

“It allows the coaching staff to feel comfortable with not only having them dress, but to play them in different situations throughout the game.”

A notable absence from the black-and-gold's lineup last Tuesday night was Grade 12 defenceman Connor Nelson, who was held out of the lineup to recover from a groin injury that he suffered at the Piper Classic Tournament of Champions in Winnipeg a few weekends ago.

“We didn't want to risk him playing Tuesday and aggravating it more when we have a week-and-a-half break coming up for exams,” Sinclair reasoned.

The Muskies won't resume action again until Feb. 3 when they take on the Baudette Bears in exhibition action at the Lake of The Woods Community Arena.

Fort High pulled out a thrilling 5-4 win the first time the two teams met back on Dec. 3 at the Ice For Kids Arena.

The black-and-gold will host the International Falls Broncos the following night in the finale of their annual two-game “Border Battle” exhibition series at IFK.

The Broncos claimed the opener by a 5-4 margin back on Dec. 20 at Bronco Arena.

Fort High will then resume NorWOSSA action on Feb. 11 when they host the Sioux Lookout Warriors at the '52 Canadians Arena.

“The focus right now is going to be on the academic part,” Sinclair stressed.

"It's important that kids are completing their culminating assignments and studying for exams as the athletic code of conduct states that if a student fails a course, they are ineligible to participate in school athletics.

“So it's important that we have all 17 kids able to continue to play,” he noted.

"After exams, we have two big games against Baudette and International Falls and then it will just be NorWOSSA play.

“We will play against every NorWOSSA team one more time here, so our focus is going to be on finishing the season strong and not playing at other team's level,” Sinclair concluded.

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