Monday, November 24, 2014

Muskie girls savouring dream season

“You know we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening.”
Such were the words Burt Lancaster uttered as ballplayer-turned-doctor Archibald “Moonlight” Graham in the cinematic classic, “Field of Dreams.”

The Muskie girls’ hockey team might take issue with that philosophy.
They made sure to embrace every moment of their experience as the first team in the program’s history to reach the OFSAA ‘AA’ championship, which was held last week in Sudbury.
“For myself, it was such an amazing opportunity just to attend OFSAA,” said Muskie captain Shelby Tymkin, one of five players whose final season always will be a memorable one after the eighth-seeded Muskies made it to the quarter-finals before falling 6-1 to the top-ranked St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School Titans (Belleville).
“But then to go 2-2 . . . that was even better that what I expected,” added Tymkin, whose team’s only goal in the quarter-final came late in the third period from Claire Sandelovich.
She led the team with three goals at the tournament, including the game-winner in the Muskies’ historic first OFSAA victory in a 1-0 defeat of the No. 9-ranked Ecole secondaire catholique Embrun Cyclones (Embrun) in their first game last Tuesday.
“I was just glad to get to spend another week with this team,” Tymkin said.
“We’re more like a second family and it’s going to be sad to leave our family.”
Those feelings where shared by Tymkin’s fellow graduate, blueliner Sarah Milling.
“Sure, I’ll remember the wins and the losses,” she remarked.
“But I’ll remember more the bus trips and the friendships, and going to the tournaments and the late nights.”
Surely not past curfew?
“Well . . .,” Milling laughed with a guilty-as-charged tone.
For the veteran blueliner, the unpredictability of the OFSAA tournament was a major part of her enjoyment.
“It’s a lot of fun to compete against other teams you’ve never seen before,” said Milling.
The Muskies lost 4-2 to the third-ranked St. Michael Catholic Secondary School Warriors (Stratford) later Tuesday, but then beat No. 14 Ecole secondaire catholique Theriault Flammes (Timmmins) by a 6-1 score last Wednesday to finish second in Pool ‘B’ with a 2-1 record.
“It was a jump in terms of level of competition but we competed well,” Milling noted.
“We wanted to keep going,” she added.
“St. Theresa moved the puck well but I don’t think the score reflected the game.”
For Muskie goalie Calie Clendenning, who won both her starts in Sudbury and also registered Fort High’s first-ever shutout at OFSAA in the win over Embrun, there was no disappointment despite not reaching the podium.
“We gave it our all. We did our best and it just didn’t go our way,” said Clendenning, who likely will return with fellow Grade 11 goalie Kate Parsons to provide a highly-experienced tandem next season.
“We kept up pretty good, considering a lot of the teams have been there before and it was our first time, and we came from the farthest away,” she reasoned.
Clendenning was proud of getting her name in the Muskie record books, but said the shutout against Embrun was a group effort.
“I had quite a bit of shots but we controlled the game for the most part and it was a really good game for all of us,” she remarked.
Muskie head coach Scott Clendenning saw his team hit its stride in the must-win victory over the Flammes as all three lines contributed two goals apiece.
“We need pucks in the net and it doesn’t matter who does it for us,” said the bench boss, whose team trailed 1-0 in the second before getting goals from Amy Penner, Katie Sinclair, Sandelovich, and Tymkin in the second.
Kaily Greengrass and Jessica Coran then scored in the third to seal the win.
“Every line did their job at OFSAA and you can’t say they weren’t, even if they didn’t score,” Scott Clendenning said.
He also wouldn’t mind another crack at St. Theresa sometime down the road, regardless of the outcome.
“We showed we can skate with any team down there, but we got into penalty trouble and [the Titans] capitalized,” he recalled.
“I’d like to play them again and I think it would be a different story.”
Clendenning couldn’t say enough about the performance his team turned in throughout a season, which saw them go undefeated during the NorWOSSA regular season and playoffs.
“This is a special group,” he lauded.
“They have been working hard at getting to this point for the last two-three years,” he noted.
“We wanted to be on ‘The Road to the Rock’ and we made it,” Clendenning added.
“Sure, we’d like a couple of games at OFSAA back. But they’re a great group of girls to coach.”
The team now will go its separate ways—each with their own future plans.
Graduating forwards Hailey Clendenning, Shilo Beck, and Sinclair all will move on.
So will Tymkin, who has her eye on playing for the Rainy River Community College Voyageurs over in International Falls next season.
Milling, meanwhile, declared this would be her last competitive hockey season.
But those they leave behind already are dreaming of a return trip to OFSAA next season, with the added bonus that the 2015 championships only will be a two-hour drive away in Kenora.
“How exciting is that?” said Scott Clendenning.
“The girls who have now had that experience at OFSAA will know what it takes to succeed there,” he noted.
“And the Fort Frances Girls’/Women’s Hockey Association has done a good job in developing players so that there will be no shortage of good players moving up to join us next year.”
The Muskies’ hunger to get back to the all-Ontarios was illustrated in a simple but direct message by Parson on her Twitter account shortly after the loss to St. Theresa last Wednesday evening.
“So can next season start next week, please?” it read.

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