If there was any question the Muskies would be one of the dominant teams in NorWOSSA this season, that question was answered with an exclamation mark after a weekend series against Sioux Lookout here.
The black-and-gold cruised to a 11-2 victory Friday night, then followed that up with a 10-3 come-from-behind win Saturday afternoon to up their league record to 5-0 and maintain sole possession of first place.
Still, the Muskies got off to a slow start in Saturday’s game and trailed 3-0 early into the second frame. But when they woke up after a controversial goal by Steve Keesic, the squad never looked back--scoring 10 unanswered goals en route to the win.
Despite injuries leaving the Muskies with just three lines instead of four, and without their top two scorers from last season, the team continued to get offensive production from everyone in the lineup.
“When we have guys not hurt, we can send out four lines that are quick and smart with the puck,” said Muskie captain Chuck Arpin, who scored a goal in Friday’s win.
“The rookies we have this year have been a big asset to our team. All the rookies are contributing,” he added.
So far this season, it seems someone new comes up with a big night offensively to give the team a lift. Last weekend it was Brad Gushulak, who netted a hat trick Friday and then added two goals and four assists Saturday.
Meanwhile, rookie defenceman Gary Curtis, pegged as the team’s fifth defenceman to start the season, added three of the team’s final four goals in Friday’s win. Ross Anderson scored once Friday and got two more Saturday.
Steve Keesic and Jordan Roy also scored twice during the series.
Head coach Glen Edwards said that type of offensive production has gone a long way in pulling the Muskies ahead of the rest of the pack in NorWOSSA.
“We’ve been working hard on moving the puck with speed in practice and it’s a key to our game to be successful,” he noted after Saturday’s win.
“We’ve been getting production from our rookies,” he added. “I felt Adam McTavish had his best game of the year, and Keesic and Anderson continue to play well.”
Edwards said he’s pleased with the team’s play so far, particularly at home--where they have outscored their opponents by a 31-8 margin in just three league games. He stressed it’s imperative the Muskies build a reputation of being a tough team to play at home.
“Absolutely, we have to create an aura in our own barn that we are a tough team to beat, and then we have to take that type of game out on the road,” he remarked.
Edwards also said Sioux Lookout, now at 0-4, isn’t as bad as its record would indicate.
“We didn’t play very well [Saturday] and they jumped on us 3-0 and that could happen,” he noted. “I told the guys after the first period that Sioux Lookout wasn’t that bad and we would have to work hard.
“I asked them, ‘Who in here has worked hard and who’s having fun?’ And no one answered,” he added.
But the Muskies definitely answered the bell after their lacklustre start. The momentum changed when Keesic raced down the right side, sidestepped a Sioux Lookout check, and went in alone to beat Warrior goalie Mike Falk.
But while the shot did not appear to go in (the goal judge did not flash the red light), the Muskies were awarded the goal and that literally opened up the floodgates to a five-goal outburst.
The black-and-gold then scored five more times in the third to cruise to the easy victory.
The Muskies return to NorWOSSA action next Monday when they travel to Kenora to face the Broncos. Their next league home game isn’t until Dec. 15 when the Dryden Eagles come to town.