It was a toss-up whether the “Teddy Bear Toss” ever was going to take place last night.
The bears—and the Muskie girls’ hockey team’s offence—finally came out of hibernation, but it turned out to be too late in terms of a win for the black-and-gold.
A late surge wasn’t enough as Fort High fell 2-1 to the Dryden Eagles at the ’52 Canadians Arena for its first NorWOSSA loss of the season.
“We didn’t play hard enough and Dryden came to play and outplayed us all over the ice,” Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton said tersely after his team saw its 16-game regular-season winning streak snapped.
“You can’t start playing with three minutes to play in the game,” he stressed.
“We played undisciplined and selfish, and it was all-around our worst game of the season,” Hamilton added.
“But give credit to Dryden. They played well.”
After a scoreless first period, McKenna Corvello outbattled Abby Plourde at the side of the Muskies’ net and redirected Jess Carter’s centering pass past Sydney Beck at 1:51 of the second.
The Muskies got some better chances in the period, especially Janelle Kaemingh and Taylor Croswell from in close, but were turned away each time by Dryden goalie Jessie Pettinger.
The Eagles made it 2-0 midway through the third when Lindy LeClerc blasted a bouncing puck from the point that skipped off of Beck’s shoulder and in.
The Muskies finally gave their fans a chance to fill the air with the stuffed companions they had brought along as part of the annual holiday campaign in support of the local Salvation Army.
Annalise (CC) Hayes, in the dying stages of a Muskie power play, forced a turnover in the Eagles’ zone and zipped a quick shot past Pettinger with 5:35 to go.
But another Muskie penalty dented the momentum as Dryden time and again prevented the Muskies from generating any speed coming out of their own zone.
Beck was pulled with 1:30 left for an extra attacker and the Muskies came within an inch of tying the game with two seconds left—only to have Hayes’ shot somehow hit the post twice and then go wide.
“We couldn’t bury the puck. I’m not even sure what to say right now,” said a clearly-frustrated Hayes.
“We have to start playing better as a group,” she stressed.
“[The Eagles] are fun to play but they like to talk a lot,” Hayes added.
“If they give it to us, we’ll give it back to them.”
Forward Hanna LeDrew said the team just wasn’t clicking.
“You make a little mistake and Dryden picks up on it,” she noted.
“I think we all played hard, but we’re not all doing the same thing at the same time,” LeDrew admitted.
“If we had scored early, it would have been different,” she remarked.
“But we couldn’t get one and after the first, the frustration was kind of building up.”
The Muskies were back on the ice today for the six-team K-Town Classic tournament in Kenora.
They faced the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints earlier (score unavailable at press time), then will battle the host Broncos.
Fort High then will take on the Sioux Lookout Warriors and Shaftesbury Titans (Winnipeg) tomorrow before concluding the round-robin event Sunday against Dryden.
The Muskies’ next home game is against the Saints this Tuesday (Dec. 13) at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.