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Muskie girls make parents proud

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Before the game, the Muskie girls hockey team thanked the people who had the most with them getting to where they are today.

They continued showing their gratitude over the next three periods.

Annalise Hayes had a hat trick as part of a six-point night and Harleigh Brow-Rose earned her second shutout of the season as the black-and-gold bombarded the Kenora Broncos 13-0 last night in NorWOSSA action at the Ice for Kids Arena.

The team held its “Parents Night” pregame ceremony, with each player coming out onto the ice with one or more of those responsible for many early-morning practice drives and lengthy road trips throughout their young hockey careers.

When it was game time, though, it was all business as all but three of 18 skaters recorded at least a point for first-place Fort Frances (14-1) in helping to its ninth straight conference victory while adding a painful exclamation mark to a long, difficult season for the winless Broncos (0-16).

“It’s not tough to get up to play these kind of teams,” maintained Muskie assistant captain Rylee Redford, who had one assist while contributing to the Fort’s massive 83-13 advantage in shots on goal, including 33-5 in the second period.

“We get ready for every team the same, like they’re the biggest opponent we have.”

Brow-Rose kept her goals-against average for the season at a perfect 0.00 after withstanding some early pressure to wind up with 13 saves in her second game of the year and first since Nov. 26, which was also against Kenora in a 15-0 road victory.

Emma Noga opened the scoring at 2:07 by taking Sam McKinnon’s centring pass and shaking off the check of Willow Prince in front of the net to smack the puck by Broncos goalie Sage Skead.

“That was awesome,” grinned Noga about winning on her 17th birthday, with the third-year forward saluted late in the third as quick-thinking Muskies team DJ Lisa George blared the opening lines of “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles from the press box.

“We’ve all got it in our heads that we want to keep playing strong this close to playoffs,” she added.

“We really want to make it to OFSAA and we’re really coming together as a team.”

Rachel Jean made it 2-0 at 7:54 with a shorthanded gem just eight seconds after McKinnon went to the box for interference.

Hayes won the face-off and pushed it ahead to the turbo-charged captain, who jetted around Kayla Moore and walked in to pull off a fantastic backhand deke before putting the puck past Skead.

The Fort defence got to work after that, with Lauren Vold’s rocket from the left circle at 12:08 and a similar missile blast from Avery Cates on the power-play at 17:25 stretched the lead to 4-0.

Kenora went from game competitors to helpless spectators in the second, allowing six goals and if not for the heroics of Skead (69 saves overall), the score would have grown to even more epic proportions.

Taylor Croswell on a jam play in front and Hayes, with a backhander over Skead’s glove that travelled faster than most players in the league can shoot the puck on the forehand, scored 12 seconds apart within the first two minutes to put the advantage up to 6-0.

Jenna Clendenning then made a dynamite move at the blue-line to get around a defender and get in alone on Skead before unleashing a cannon shot to the glove side at 12:03 to put the Muskies up by a converted touchdown.

Kelsey Langtry powered home a rebound of Hanna LeDrew’s shot at 13:06 and Hayes roofed another backhander off a breakaway 26 seconds later to make it 9-0 and cap off a string of three goals in 1:29.

Hayes completed the hat trick with 3.4 seconds left, winning a face-off back to Vold at the point, whose shot rebounded right to Hayes to tuck home.

“I think we woke up a bit in the second,” said Redford in extremely understated fashion.

Fort Frances took the foot off the gas in the third, yet still found the net three more times.

Taylor Croswell centred the puck in front to Janelle Kaemingh at 5:29 while Siobhan Mackintosh popped in a loose puck off a scramble in the Broncos’ crease at 11:40 to pump the lead up to 12-0.

Croswell rounded out the scoring and her four-point night on the back half of a two-man advantage for the Fort (2-for-4 on the power-play) by tapping home the rebound after Sara Jackson drove the net solidly for the original shot.

Vold and Jean each posted three points, while Kaemingh, Mackintosh, Clendenning and Cates had two apiece.

The Muskies will close out the regular season on Sunday when they visit the fourth-place Sioux Lookout Warriors (4-10-0-1) in a preview of the teams’ upcoming best-of-three NorWOSSA semifinal.

That series is officially slated to start with Game 1 on Wednesday at the Ice for Kids Arena at 7:15 p.m.

However, Fort head coach Todd Hamilton said last night he was making a last-ditch effort to try and save some travel costs for the team by checking about playing Sunday’s game earlier in the day and then staying in Sioux Lookout to play Game 1 on Monday.

That would put Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3 back in Fort Frances, as the Muskies hold home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

No decision on the request was available as of press time.

The other girls semifinal will begin Wednesday in Dryden, as the host and No. 2-ranked Dryden Eagles (11-4-0-1) face the third-place St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (10-6).

A whole new level of intrigue has come to that series with the underdog Saints having won the final two regular-season meetings between the two, including a 1-0 victory at home this past Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Muskie boys hockey team also concludes its regular season on the road this weekend.

Fort Frances (13-0) faces the Sioux Lookout Warriors (7-4-1-2) in what NorWOSSA already tweeted out yesterday as a semifinal matchup that is to get underway next Thursday (Feb. 18) at the Ice for Kids Arena.

But NorWOSSA officials appear to have jumped the gun at least temporarily.

The Warriors and the Dryden Eagles (8-5-0-1) are tied with 17 points each, three back of the Kenora Broncos (10-5), who clinched second place last night with a 3-2 win over the fifth-place St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (4-9-1-1).

Dryden currently holds third spot due to having more wins, but a Sioux Lookout win against the Fort combined with a Dryden home loss against the Muskies on Tuesday to finish the regular-season schedule would lift the Warriors past the Eagles into third and set up a much-preferable semifinal date with the Broncos while leaving Dryden to take on the undefeated Muskies.

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