The Muskie girls’ hockey team begins play in the first-ever NorWOSSA playoffs Friday afternoon knowing they can hang tough with the host Dryden Eagles.
The best-of-three semi-final showdown resumes here Sunday at 4 p.m., with Game 3, if necessary, back in Dryden on Tuesday afternoon.
The winner will advance to the best-of-three NorWOSSA final against the winner of the Kenora Broncos-Red Lake Rams series.
The black-and-gold, who finished in third place with a 4-7-1 record, went 0-3-1 against the second-place Eagles, but three of those games were close—including the 2-2 tie here Tuesday night to wrap up the regular season.
“I think we’re an even matchup. It boils down to who shows up to play,” said Muskie head coach Pat Dittaro. “I hope both teams do so. It’ll be good, exciting hockey.”
“The team’s feeling good. We’re looking to surprise [the Eagles] on Friday,” team captain Jen Caul added.
Dittaro said the girls have improved since the program began last year and the whole locker room is poised at making a run at the inaugural girls’ title.
“Our first year last season was a learning experience,” he admitted. “They’ve never played that calibre before. This year, they knew they needed a good work ethic.
“They came with the right attitude.”
The Muskies will look to their first line, featuring top scorers Caul and Sarah Barton, to key their offence. The duo combined for 27 of the team’s 44 goals in 12 regular-season games.
“This year, Sarah and I have worked really well together,” said Caul, who leads the team with 14 goals. “We’re usually put out with the other team’s stronger lineup.”
Caul and Barton have been joined by Kristin Roehrig, Heather Dutton, and Nikki Baker at the other forward position throughout the season. Dittaro said he’ll mix and match to see which combination works best against Dryden.
Their second line includes Carling Barton, Dana Ward, and Stephanie Strachan, who he said “really came alive against Dryden.”
Kim Fowler will start in goal for the semi-final series.