Todd Hamilton was counting on the host teams making his squad work up a sweat this past weekend—a rarity in what’s mostly been a season on cruise control so far.
Hamilton led the Muskie girls’ hockey team into a three-game exhibition series in Thunder Bay hoping to see them get pushed to their limits after a dominating start to the NorWOSSA season that has seen the black-and-gold go 5-0 and outscore its opponents 57-4.
First up was a meeting with former Muskies Amy Penner and Kaily Greengrass, who each recorded an assist in a 5-2 win for the Confederation College Thunderhawks on Friday.
“The warm-up was only three minutes long and they jumped on us right away before we got settled in,” noted Hamilton, whose team fell behind 2-0 in the first and 3-0 early in the second.
“But when we began to play our game, we saw we could be competitive with them and I think when we play them again, it will be a little closer,” he remarked.
Annalise Hayes set up Jenna Clendenning in the second period for the Muskies, then tipped home a shot by Lauren Hamilton while Hayes was standing in front of the net with 14 seconds left in the frame.
As for the Muskie alumni, Todd Hamilton said it looked like the two fit in quite well at the collegiate level.
“They were getting played with Con College’s best forwards,” he noted.
“Amy had a breakaway against us and Kaily was using her speed on the outside very well.”
On Saturday, Fort High gritted out a 2-2 tie against the Thunder Bay Midget ‘A’ Queens.
“They played a really disciplined sort of game,” Hamilton said of the Queens.
“They break out of their zone well and forecheck hard, and do a good job pinching down on the wings,” he noted.
Again, it took a comeback effort as the Queens scored once in each of the first two periods to lead 2-0 entering the third.
The Muskies made their run with less than nine minutes to go.
Clendenning and Hayes set up captain Rachel Jean to cut the Queens’ lead to one before Jean tacked on the tying goal assisted by Hamilton.
Hayes had her day—and her weekend—end early after receiving a misconduct in the final minutes of the game, drawing a one-game suspension.
Her loss was compounded by an arm injury suffered by blueliner Lauren Vold that will keep her out of the lineup for likely a couple of weeks.
“[Vold] came off the boards and fell awkwardly,” noted Hamilton, who admired her determination and toughness.
“She had her arm in a sling and still said she was ready to play the next day,” he said.
Without Hayes and Vold, the Muskies stuck to a defensive-minded game and pulled out a 1-1 tie against the Thunder Bay Fury Midget competitive team.
The Fury struck first midway through the opening period but Emma Noga replied 1:27 later for what would be the game’s final goal.
The goalies took over after that, with Sydney Beck turning in a strong effort in her third game in three days.
“We came out a little flat,” admitted Hamilton, who moved Jean back to the blueline for the game in Vold’s absence—a position she spent all of last season playing.
“Their goalie played well after we came on, although we did hit a couple of pipes,” he added.
Hamilton thought the Muskies had pulled ahead on a point shot from Sara Jackson in the third that was ruled to have not entered the net.
“It bounced around everywhere . . . unfortunately, there’s no video review in high school girls’ hockey,” he said ruefully.
The Muskies visited the Dryden Eagles last night in a clash between the top two teams in NorWOSSA (the outcome was unavailable as of press time).
The squad is in Kenora tonight to play the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints.
Those same Saints then will visit here for a two-game series Dec. 16-17.