Revenge is a dish best served at home.
A day after arriving back to Fort Frances late after dispatching the host Sioux Lookout Warriors 52-13, the Muskies followed that up with a gritty 45-36 win over the Dryden Eagles last Tuesday afternoon at Fort High.
The win was even sweeter for the Muskies (5-1), who lost 38-36 in overtime in their first frustrating encounter with the Eagles back on Sept. 26 in Dryden.
“We were a very determined team yesterday, we simply could not afford to lose,” Muskie coach Gord McCabe told the Times last Wednesday.
“Although we started poorly, with the Eagles actually going up 7-2 early, we never panicked and responded with a 12-0 run.”
The Muskies rode that momentum into a slim 19-17 halftime lead over the Eagles (5-1).
Then, off the back of Grace Petsnick's eight points, Fort High outscored Dryden 26-18 in the second half to secure its fifth win of the season.
Petsnick finished with a team-high 17 points for the Muskies while Alina Eldridge chipped in with eight.
Aurora Hutton and Keisha DeBungie both added six points, with Jamie Spencer and Rachel Anderson both potting four, to round out the offence.
“It felt pretty good to win this game, we pretty much had to have it to remain in the hunt for first place,” McCabe remarked.
"The NorWOSSA playoff system, which I have long felt is archaic and needs to be changed, makes it very important to finish first.
“We were able to overcome a second-place finish last year, but fortunately we were playing at home,” he recalled.
McCabe noted that when teams finish second or third in the NorWOSSA standings, they have to travel to play in a semifinal and end up having to catch a bus at 6:30 or 7 a.m.
That means most players are up by 5:30 a.m.—or earlier.
“If you win the semifinal, the final may not start until late in the evening,” he remarked.
“I remember last year the final started sometime between 8:30 and 9 p.m. At least by finishing first, hopefully the school allows you to take a later bus so the team does not sit around the gym all day.”
McCabe said that he feels so strongly about his opinion on the flawed NorWOSSA court sports playoff system, that last spring he actually wrote up a proposal for NorWOSSA to move to a two-day playoff format.
“But I never got any feedback as to why it was not adopted,” he noted.
“Can you imagine the community outcry that would happen if hockey adopted the same one day playoff format that we use in court sports?”
But, with the playoff system as it is, the Muskies will be aiming to finish first as they head down the stretch this NorWOSSA season.
The black-and-gold were slated to resume league play this afternoon against the host Kenora Broncos (1-4), with the outcome not known as of press time.
The Muskies' next home game is slated for next Wednesday (Oct. 23) when they welcome Dryden for the third and final time in the regular season.
“The teams' mindset is very simple; Take care of business in our remaining games against Kenora and Sioux Lookout, and make sure we come out with our very best effort in our Oct. 23 game against Dryden,” McCabe stressed.
“I expect most of the girls have that date circled on their calendar.”
McCabe also feels that his squad needs to be more consistent moving forward as they have far too many lapses in judgment for a team that is one of the best in northwestern Ontario.
“When we are playing well we are as good as any team in northwestern Ontario, but we have too many lapses at both the offensive and defensive end,” he conceded.
"Yesterday, I was struggling to find a combination that would catch fire. I'm not afraid to do that as most of these girls have played together for years, so they know each other very well.
“We did find a group that got it going in the third quarter and I left them out there for quite an extended period,” he recalled.
“I will do that with any group that makes a run.”