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Muskie pucksters battling familiar foe

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You can forgive the Muskie boys' and girls' hockey teams if they're seeing double over the next week.

A scheduling quirk had the squads hosting back-to-back games against the Kenora Broncos last night (the outcomes of which were not known at press time) and again next Tuesday (Nov. 28) in NorWOSSA regular-season play.

Muskie boys' head coach Jordan Sinclair doesn't believe the oddity should affect his team's play against the Broncos.

“It's not very often during a season that you play the same team back-to-back,” he noted in an e-mailed response to the Times.

"But to me, the biggest challenge is mentally making sure you don't get ahead of yourself.

“You want to make sure you play the right way, play to our team's identity and strengths,” Sinclair stressed.

“Physically, it's just another game [and] same team or not, there's no excuses,” he reasoned.

“You just gotta get out there and play.”

Muskie girls' head coach Todd Hamilton believes the fact the play the other teams in the league regularly shouldn't have an effect for the back-to-back home games versus the Broncos.

“We play each team four times, in tournaments and also in the playoffs, so we are used to playing games in a row,” he noted in an e-mailed response to the Times.

The boys' team will be looking to build on the momentum from an 11-1 romp over the visiting St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in its NorWOSSA regular-season opener last Tuesday.

Eric Pitkanen led the way offensively with a hat trick and added an assist while linemates Reed Bodnar and Kaleb Bruyere also had four-point nights.

“I thought there was a number of guys that had good games, and the line of Bodnar, Bruyere, and Pitkanen really stood out with a real strong outing,” said Sinclair.

After a big win like that, one wouldn't think there are many improvements a team would need to make.

But Sinclair has a few things for the squad to keep in mind.

“To me, we want to do a better job without the puck in the neutral zone, so we will talk about that,” he noted.

“[We'll] watch some video and make it a point of emphasis during practice before our next games.”

The Muskie girls, meanwhile, won their NorWOSSA season-opener 6-5 last Tuesday after a wild third period that saw the Muskies and Saints trade the lead several times.

Taylor Croswell wound up being hero—scoring on a breakaway with just under two minutes to go to give the black-and-gold the win.

Hamilton liked how his squad performed overall, but believes they can be stronger in certain areas heading into the games against the Broncos.

“I thought we started well and lost our focus and intensity as we moved along,” he admitted.

“We have to give credit to St. Thomas Aquinas as they really brought pressure and speed,” Hamilton added.

“We play best when we are moving our feet and using our speed.”

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