The Muskie hockey team, fresh off an impressive showing at a tournament in Winnipeg last weekend, are now gearing up for a stretch drive they hope will lead to an all-Ontario berth.
Sitting atop NorWOSSA with a league-leading 11-2 record, the black-and-gold will face a tough test this Friday when they visit Dryden to take on the second-place Eagles, who are four points back at 9-3.
Head coach Glen Edwards said the next few weeks will be the Muskies’ biggest--and most important--test of the season.
“The [Winnipeg] tournament was a dress rehearsal for the all-Ontarios,” an upbeat Edwards said Monday, noting it showed the players how they’ll have to play to be successful.
The Muskies certainly played well defensively at the 12-team John Piper Taylor Classic--allowing just five goals in four games as they finished in first place of their pool with a 2-0-1 record.
But they were bounced from further contention after a tough 3-2 loss to the Sisler Spartans in the semi-finals (Sisler went on to win the tourney title with a 7-6 shootout win over the St. Paul’s Crusaders).
“Sisler had a decent team but we outplayed them,” Edwards said. “We didn’t allow them a shot in the first period.”
Ross Anderson staked the black-and-gold to a 2-0 lead but the Muskies couldn’t hold on to it as Sisler scored once with a two-man advantage and then added a shorthanded marker to knot the score at 2-2.
The Spartans netted the game-winner midway through the third period.
“We ran out of gas a bit in the third,” noted Edwards. “When we dominate teams, we have to learn to score, which is why we lost the semi-final.
“We’re going to use this week of practice to work on our conditioning because when we get tired, our brains quit and we make mistakes in our own zone,” he stressed.
“And we’re going to practice our shooting.”
The Muskies opened action last Thursday night with a 0-0 draw against the St. John’s Ravenscourt Eagles in a game Edwards said had its share of action despite the lack of goals.
“It was a good hockey game with lots of scoring chances at both ends of the rink,” he noted. “We played fairly well and got some excellent goaltending from Jamie Booth.”
The Muskies found their scoring touch Friday morning against Miles Macdonell Collegiate, routing their Winnipeg rivals by an 8-1 count.
Tyler Coyle scored twice in that one while Chuck Arpin, Adam McTavish, Jon Rogoza, Dwight Galusha, and Anderson added singles. Blake Carlson picked up the win between the pipes.
The Muskies then clinched top spot in their pool with a narrow 2-1 win over Fort Richmond on Friday afternoon, again led by the solid netminding of Booth (who stopped a couple of breakaways) and some strong play in their defensive end.
After Galusha scored to tie things up at 1-1 in the first, Chris Kellar scored what proved to be the game-winner in the second frame.