OSHAWA—After a promising start to their quest for all-Ontario gold, it was all downhill from there for the Muskie boys' hockey team.
Already eliminated after a 7-0 loss to the top-ranked Mother Teresa Spartans (London) on Thursday night, the black-and-gold wrapped up play with a 4-3 loss Friday morning to the Mayfield Mavericks (Caledon) to finish at 1-3 in Pool ‘A.’
Once again, penalties were a major factor in the Muskies’ loss.
Mitch Green (hit from behind), Ryan Witherspoon (kneeing), and Cody McCool (unsportsmanlike) all were ejected from this morning’s game against the Mavericks.
“I thought we did quite well, but we got into penalty trouble again,” head coach Shane Bliss remarked.
“We usually pride ourselves on being disciplined and I think we took some undisciplined penalties today and it killed our momentum.
“That team [Mayfield] is nice hockey team,” Bliss added. “They skate well and I thought we did a good job. We didn’t give up nearly as many chances as the other teams when we watched them.
“They were susceptible in the ‘D’ zone and we did get on them and cause some trouble, but not quite enough.”
Taylor Jorgensen led the Muskies with a pair of goals while Kevin Bobczynski rounded out the scoring.
A bevy of penalties also were at the heart of the Muskies’ woes Thursday night against the Spartans.
Fort High found themselves short-handed 14 times and the Spartans made the most of their strong power-play unit—scoring four of their seven goals with the man advantage.
“We spent way too much time in the box,” Bliss lamented after the game.
“I can’t fault the guys [the referees] on all the calls. I'm not going to blame the reffing,” he stressed. “We didn’t score any goals and we didn't have many chances.
“They [Mother Teresa] play like a veteran team,” Bliss added. “When the puck is on their stick, they don’t dilly-dally. They shoot it and they shoot it hard.”
Bliss’ frustration was echoed by several of his players.
“After they got that first [goal], we kind of quit,” Muskie captain Ryan Witherspoon admittted. “It just went downhill from there.
“In the third period, we didn’t even really come out,” he added. “We took too many penalties. Guys just weren’t using their heads and taking too many stupid penalties.”
“We just stopped playing our game, stopped skating, and started hooking and holding,” echoed assistant captain Mitch Green.
“Skating is our game and if we don’t have that, we don’t have anything.”
But while Bliss was frustrated at being eliminated from further contention at this year’s tournament, he did take solace in the accomplishments of the team this season.
“If we look back at when we picked the team at the beginning of the year, we said, 'We’re young and if we can get to OFSAA, that would be great.’
“Our expectations were, that if we got here, it would be more of a learning experience. I’m hoping that is what we’re getting from this,” he added.
“We’re seeing what teams that are a little bit older, a little bit stronger do. They don’t fool around. They skate at a 100 miles an hour, they shoot it hard, and they make the most of their opportunities.
“We’re probably not playing any worse than we did in any other game all year, but these teams make you pay for your mistakes.”
The Muskies came out strong against the Spartans last night, carrying the majority of the play in the early going of the first period.
But it was the Spartans who drew first blood when a turnover in the Muskie zone resulted in a breakaway for Michael Carson, who fired a wrist shot past starting goalie Richard Wieringa high and to the blocker side.
The Spartans extended their lead early in the second period when Alex Regan circled into the high slot and fired a low shot through a crowd that eluded Wieringa.
Trailing 2-0, the Muskies began to take a series of undisciplined penalties.
The black-and-gold successfully killed off a Matt DePiero hooking penalty, but Christopher Erie scored eight seconds later to give Mother Teresa a 3-0 lead.
The turning point of the game came at the five-minute mark of the second when both Brian Glavish and Witherspoon were handed minor penalties on the same play.
And the Spartans made the most of the opportunity—scoring a pair of power-play goals to take a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Any hopes of a Muskie comeback were quickly dashed early in the third period when Nicholas Dronyk scored for the Spartans.
The game turned ugly following Dronyk’s goal as Muskie Kyle Turgeon was cross-checked in the head as he tried to bodycheck his man.
The incident sparked a melee as Turgeon and then Green tried to get some retribution for the cross-check.
Once the officials restored order, Spartan Stephen Korakianitis was given a game misconduct while Turgeon and Green were assessed minor penalties.
But the rough play continued for the rest of the game as the Muskies were assessed an additional five penalties for a variety of infractions.
The Spartans took advantage on one of the power plays as Jason MacCuaig scored to round out the scoring.