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Muskie girls triumphant in 'Border Battle'

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The bragging rights belong to this side of the border this season.

Captain Jill Calder and Abbie Kenny both scored twice to pace the Muskie girls' hockey team to an impressive 7-0 romp over the International Falls Broncos in the finale of their annual two-game “Border Battle” exhibition series on Monday night at the Ice For Kids Arena.

The Muskies put the pressure on early and didn't relent as they swept the series after also taking the opener by a 5-1 count back on Nov. 23 in the Falls.

“We're really focused on trying to win three periods,” Muskie head coach Nicole Clarke said after Monday's win on home ice.

“We had a little bit of a slow start but in between the first and second [periods] we talked to the girls that we wanted to step up the intensity. But, yeah, we were chatting in there about fighting to the end, right? And helping [Muskie goalie] Kam [Sandelovich] get that shutout and not letting them get one.”

The Muskies wasted little time in getting going in Monday night's game as Abbie Kenny rifled a feed from Jerzi Calder past Broncos' goalie Macey Marcotte just 1:38 into the contest.

Fort High then broke things open in the second period with a three-goal outburst.

Calder fired home her first of the night with 3:55 to go before Issy Taylor found some room on a short-handed breakaway and tucking a shot past a sprawled out Marcotte shortly after, to make it a three-goal lead.

The Muskie captain then capitalized again with 11 seconds remaining, with Raelle Redford and Katrina Koomans drawing the assists on the goal as Fort High was firmly ahead 4-0 heading into the final frame.

“She's a great leader on and off the ice, she really gets the girls going and pumps them up,” Clarke lauded of Calder, who is wearing the captain 'C' for the first time in her high school career this season.

“She's very positive on the bench, too. So yeah, her leadership is good. She follows instructions extremely well and has really bought into everything that we're trying to teach the girls.”

Kenny was Johnny-on-the-spot early in the third as she one-timed home a feed from Taylor to put the Muskies ahead by five.

Kathryn Fischer lit the lamp on an individual effort later in the frame while Piper Cross also bulged the twine to round out the scoring for the Muskies.

Kamyrn Sandelovich was stellar in the Muskie goal to garner the win over Marcotte.

“I really liked the positive attitude that we had tonight,” Clarke remarked.

"I know in a 7-0 game sometimes it's hard to keep the girls focused and on track, but they seemed to remain focused but also positive amongst each other. I really did like the energy and their ability to execute everything that we've been working on and telling them to do in practice.

“They really did that well tonight,” she enthused.

The Muskies had gone into Monday's game with momentum after dumping the visiting Kenora Broncos by a 7-1 count in NorWOSSA action last Tuesday night at the '52 Canadians Arena.

The black-and-gold got off to another slow start in that one as Hannah Gray opened the scoring for the Broncos (0-7) just 2:17 into the first period as she buried one past Muskie goalie Jersey Masson.

But the Muskies (5-1) found their groove shortly after that and got tallies from Calder, Taylor (short-handed) and Kenny to forge ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes.

Fischer (power play), Taylor and Ashlyn Beck (short-handed) then found the back of the net past Broncos' goalie Carlee Holmstrom in the second to make it a five-goal cushion for Fort High.

Paiten Kinnear then made good on a power-play opportunity in the third to round out the scoring.

“We came out a little slow, they got that one quick one on us so that's what we were also trying to work on tonight [Monday] is just totally coming out strong,” said Clarke.

"We were able to do that against International Falls but not against Kenora even though it's hard playing teams where you've won [against them] before and kind of getting them back in check.

“So we came out kind of slow, but then when we regrouped I think it kind of woke the girls up a bit and we go back into it.”

Clarke said she has been impressed with the goaltending in both Sandelovich and Masson and lauded their stellar efforts in the Muskies' last two games.

“I feel pretty comfortable putting either of the girls in and we've talked to the girls and who's hot will go in,” Clarke remarked.

“They're both super strong for us and, you know, it makes you a little bit more confident, especially the players themselves, to be more confident to pinch and things like that knowing that their goalies have their back.”

Due to exams, the second-place Muskies won't see NorWOSSA action again until Thursday, Feb. 6 when they hit the road to face the league-leading St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (7-0-0-1) in Kenora.

The Muskies trail the Saints by five points in the standings, but also have two games in hand, and will be looking to make-up that ground down the stretch of the regular season.

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