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Win gives Muskie girls hope for holidays

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The Muskie girls’ hockey team started the game with a song on the bench—and ended it with a tune of celebration.

Krystine Marchuk made no mistake on a rebound opportunity to score the winning goal at 3:09 of overtime to give the Muskies a 3-2 victory over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in exhibition action at the Ice for Kids Arena yesterday afternoon.

Katie McTavish centred the puck in front of the Saints’ net and after Sarah O’Sullivan was stopped initially, Marchuk jumped on the loose puck and beat goalie Jayme Kurtz to the stick side for the black-and-gold’s second win of the season.

“We controlled the game for the most part and this should really give us momentum,” said Muskie captain Tara Lloyd, who scored twice, including the tying goal at 14:47 of the third to send the game to overtime.

“We’re heading to Minneapolis [for the Holiday Cup tournament Dec. 26-28] and we did well last year, so hopefully we’ll do the same this year,” she added.

When the tape of “O Canada” failed to kick in before the opening face-off, the Muskie players exhibited their patriotic fervour by launching into the national anthem a capella until the background music finally blared to life.

But the game started on a down note when the Saints’ Ricki Gerbrandt slashed through the Muskie defence up the middle and walked in to beat starter Kim Pacarenuk for a 1-0 lead at 4:15 of the first.

Despite playing with jumbled lines due to the absence of Heather Dutton and Joelle Madill (personal commitments), along with injuries to Ashley Whalen (post-concussion syndrome) and Darcy Smith (sprained knee), the Muskies didn’t throw in the towel despite the early deficit.

Lloyd pulled her troops even, breaking in on the left wing and whizzing a shot high to Kurtz’s glove side at 6:42.

Gerbrandt struck again at 1:11 of the second as she slipped in front of Pacarenuk unguarded and knifed a backhander underneath the goalie after a pass from Megan Derouard.

But with Kurtz looking unshakable between the pipes, Hannah Firth caused a turnover in the Saints’ zone and fed O’Sullivan, who dropped it off for Lloyd.

The veteran then wired a wrist shot to the low left-hand corner from just inside the blueline to tie the game at 2-2.

“I just was looking to get the puck off as quick as I could and hit one of the corners at the same time,” said Lloyd.

< *c>NorWOSSA woes

Unfortunately, the Muskies’ struggles in NorWOSSA play worsened Friday night in a 14-1 thumping at the hands of the Kenora Broncos at the ’52 Canadians Arena.

After absorbing an 11-0 loss at home three days earlier to the same Broncos, the plan the Muskies (0-5 in NorWOSSA play) to keep things close early went out the window when Kenora (4-0-1) scored twice in the opening minute against goalie Megan Bob to ignite a five-goal first period.

But Muskie assistant coach Allan Barr said it was important to keep the talent difference between the two squads in mind before judging his team too harshly.

“A lot of the girls on Kenora are 18 years old, where we’ve got some that are 14 years old,” said Barr, whose squad has been outscored 34-3 in three games against the Broncos so far this season.

“That’s not only four years in age, but four years in hockey experience.

“The score didn’t reflect the way we played,” Barr added. “No one wanted to give up. We showed grit and determination as a team.”

The black-and-gold not only were battling the Broncos on Friday night, but also their own shortage of players.

Veteran blueliner Brooke Shabatura was serving a one-game suspension after being whistled for a hit-from-behind penalty Tuesday night against the Broncos while Whalen was still out with her injury.

Throw in the departure of defenceman Holly Williams from the team since the start of the regular season due to other commitments, the Muskies’ blueline corps was in rough shape against a Kenora squad that was not in the mood to mess around.

Beth Pernsky scored 21 seconds into the game on a pass from Lindy Shaw to start what would be a huge night for the dynamic duo, who combined for 15 points.

Ashley Bain quickly made it 2-0 at the 56-second mark, then tallied again at 8:15 before Allison Engstrom fired a pair of goals to make it 5-0.

McTavish finally broke the Kenora shutout streak of 142:10 against the Muskies this season, taking a Becky Witherspoon pass and unleashing a spectacular wrist shot that beat Broncos’ goalie Kailey McMaster at 2:50 of the second period.

Pernsky scored her second of the game just 18 seconds later, and completed the hat trick at 8:08 to give Kenora a 7-1 lead.

Joelle Charlebois connected 43 seconds after that against Pacarenuk, who replaced Bob after the first period, and then Shaw scored her first of four in the game at 15:29 to make it 9-1 heading into the second intermission.

Shaw sandwiched goals around Bain’s hat trick goal to make it 12-1. Pernsky and Shaw then collected their fourth goal each to end the onslaught.

To add injury to insult, the Muskies lost one of their top-line wingers when Smith sprained her knee on the last shift of the game.

“This is a resilient bunch of young girls,” said Barr. “They’re starting to work as a unit. You’re going to take some bumps like this as a new program until it evolves.”

The Muskies head to Dryden this Friday to challenge the Eagles in their last NorWOSSA game of the calendar year, before returning to NorWOSSA action Jan. 7 at home against Dryden.

Smith is expected to return in time for the Holiday Cup tournament later this month, which Muskie fans can follow on the Web at www.superrink.org

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