The playoffs are about clutch play, hustle, and intelligence. Last night, the Muskie boys’ hockey team was none of the above.
The Dryden Eagles scored on back-to-back power plays in the first period en route to an 8-3 thrashing of the host Muskies in game one of their best-of-three NorWOSSA semi-final showdown.
“I don’t know how you cannot be ready to come play at this time of year,” said Muskie head coach Shane Bliss. “We had a slow start again today. Earlier in the year, this was a problem.
“Dryden flat out beat us tonight. It seemed like they wanted the puck more,” he added. “If we don’t turn it around by Sunday [for game two in Dryden], the season’s over.”
Game three, if necessary, is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena. The winner advances to the best-of-three NorWOSSA final against either the first-place Kenora Broncos or fourth-place Red Lake Rams.
Yesterday was a night to forget for the Muskies, especially in the goaltending department. Starter Matt Gamsby was pulled at the 14:13 mark of the first after surrendering two goals in 34 seconds to put Dryden up 3-0.
But backup Jason Green didn’t fare much better, and the veteran Gamsby was reinserted for the rookie netminder with 2:31 left in the third after Green allowed the eighth Dryden goal.
Jay Samsal and Brian Montgomery each tallied twice to lead the Eagles, with Shawn McNeil, Colin Spencer, Andrew Skene, and Darren Miller added singles.
Justin Larson, who returned from a shoulder injury that had kept him out of action the last two weeks, had a goal and an assist for the black-and-gold.
Kris Esselink, who was battling the ’flu entering the game, and Eric Mosbeck had their other markers.
Forward Cody Dittaro missed the game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the week, but said after the game he hoped to be back in two weeks if the Muskies manage to extend their season.
In related news, the Muskie girls’ hockey team, coming off an 0-12 record during the regular season, get a clean slate tonight as they travel to Dryden for game one of their NorWOSSA semi-final series against the Eagles.
Game two is slated for noon Sunday at the Ice for Kids Arena, with game three, if necessary, back in Dryden on Tuesday night.