The Muskie girls’ hockey team suffered its first loss of the NorWOSSA season last week.
Then they made the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints suffer their wrath.
Annalise Hayes scored four goals as the Muskies cruised to a 7-0 win over the Saints last Wednesday in Kenora.
Taylor Croswell, Sam McKinnon and Rachel Jean added singles, while Sydney Beck posted the shutout.
Fort High (6-1) had fallen 2-1 to the host Dryden Eagles (5-1) last Tuesday, but came ready for redemption the following night despite it being their fifth game in six days.
“The players were ready for it,” said Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton, whose team outshot the Saints 43-13.
“They got mentally prepared and they were ready to go, and took charge of the game from the start and didn’t let go until the final buzzer,” he noted.
“The kids came out of the zone with a lot of poise and if they didn’t have anything going when we entered the zone, we’d come out and regroup and go in again,” Hamilton added.
He said one of the keys to victory was moving the puck to open players.
“With the give-and-go play, we practice that all the time and the girls applied it in the game and did a great job,” he lauded.
Hamilton singled out the play of forward Rylee Redford, who was pulling double duty with two sets of rookie wingers due to the absence of veteran Emma Noga (personal).
“Rylee was a real leader out there as I was rotating her from playing with Hanna [LeDrew] and Reece [McQuaker] to playing with Kelsey [Langtry] and Siobhan [Mackintosh],” he remarked.
“She had a great game since Emma couldn’t be there.
“It doesn’t show up on the scoresheet, but what I liked out of her was her focus and the fact she was getting shots on net,” Hamilton said.
“With one player missing at forward from the game, Rylee took the challenge and ran with it, and the younger players responded to her, too,” he added.
“She’s a powerful player and the younger players felt more comfortable on the ice with her.”
The previous night in Dryden, the Muskies and Eagles clashed in the latest edition of what has become the league’s best rivalry between the two teams that have met in the past two NorWOSSA finals—both won by Fort High.
“Dryden’s a really good team with strong goaltending and they’re well-coached,” said Hamilton, whose team’s only goal came from Emma Noga.
“They played well and we did, too, at times,” he noted.
“It was just a game between two good teams and you have to have a winner.
“We had our scoring chances but we have to take advantage of them,” he conceded.
Penalty trouble plagued the Muskies against Dryden and Hamilton was pointing fingers—but not at his team.
“The kids played well and I don’t think there was a discipline problem there,” he stressed.
“There were some subjective calls by the ref . . . there is a little inconsistency in that what is considered a body check in one arena is not in another,” Hamilton noted.
“But that’s fine because it’s common in girls’ hockey.
“You have to figure it out early in the game what it’s going to be called like and play that way the rest of the game,” he reasoned.
The only injury problem for the Muskies right now is veteran blueliner Lauren Vold (upper-body), who likely will sit out until the Muskies head to Blaine, Mn. for the annual Schwan Cup tournament at month’s end.
After the Saints’ game, the black-and-gold enjoyed a full week off from competition—foregoing their usual appearance in the K-Town Christmas Classic in Kenora over the weekend.
That should mean a fully-rested team for the two-game series against those same Saints here today and tomorrow.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena, with Game 2 set for tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.