The view looks pretty good from the top as the Muskie girls' hockey team has been flying high to start the season.
After dumping the Dryden Eagles by a 7-0 count in their NorWOSSA home-opener last Tuesday night, the Muskies followed that up by thumping the International Falls Broncos 5-1 in the opener of their annual two-game “Border Battle” exhibition series on Saturday afternoon at Bronco Arena.
Head coach Nicole Clarke couldn't be any prouder of her players' efforts so far.
“I really like that we're really focused on executing our forecheck, the neutral zone, the defensive zone,” she said after Saturday's win in the Falls.
"We are really, really trying to focus on our positions right now and I think that most of the time when we score goals, it's because we're set up properly.
“We're really trying to focus on our speed and putting the pressure on [opponents] right away,” Clarke noted.
Issy Taylor scored twice and helped set up two other tallies as the Muskies drew first blood against the Broncos in their barn on Saturday.
Using some of their trademark speed to create some space, Taylor opened the scoring for the Muskies near the 12-minute mark of the first period as she snapped a shot from just inside the blueline past Broncos' goalie Macey Marcotte.
The Muskies also outshot the Broncos by a commanding 15-2 margin in the frame.
But the Broncos came back to tie it just under seven minutes into the second as Emma Erickson buried a pass from the left side past Muskie goalie Jersey Masson.
Some good pressure down low in the Broncos' end led to the Muskies regaining the lead as Abbie Kenny finished off a feed from Taylor near the nine-minute mark.
Kathryn Fischer then backhanded one home in front of Marcotte to make it 3-1 Muskies after 34 minutes.
In the third, Taylor potted her second of the afternoon just over five minutes in as she buried a feed from Kenny to push it to a three-goal lead.
“She's a really, really smart hockey player positionally and that kind of drives her line to be in position as well,” Clarke said of Taylor.
“She makes some really good choices. She's pretty smart, even throwing it out in front of the net it's usually on somebody's stick and in the net.”
Hailey Bombay then shovelled home the rebound of Tatum Glowsky's shot at the left of Marcotte just over a minute later to cap the scoring.
Masson made six saves to earn the win while Marcotte was much busier, turning aside 44 shots to suffer the loss.
“It was a little hard for 'Jers' today because she didn't get a whole lot of shots,” Clarke conceded.
“But when she did, it's good to stay warm in there.”
The Muskies had gone into Saturday's game after routing the Eagles (0-2) in their home-opener on Tuesday night at the '52 Canadians Arena to see their NorWOSSA record improve to a league-best 2-0.
Captain Jill Calder scored twice and added an assist while Piper Cross also potted a pair to pace the offence.
Calder opened the scoring for the Muskies near the 10-minute mark of the first period, with Raelle Redford drawing the lone assist on the play.
Then in the second, she potted her second of the night at 4:22 to double the lead as she backhanded home the rebound of Ashlyn Beck's shot in the slot past Eagles' goalie Brynn Montgomery.
Piper Cross tallied her first of the night just under two minutes later as she found a loose puck in the slot and fired it home before Bombay sniped one over Montgomery's shoulder from the right side to put the black-and-gold up by four.
Cross then tallied again with 26 seconds to go in the frame to make it 5-0 after 40 minutes.
Glowasky and Taylor both found the back of the net in the third period to round out the scoring.
Kamryn Sandelovich was steady when called upon to earn the shutout in goal in her first start of the season.
“They both had great games,” Clarke lauded of her goaltenders' play last week.
“Kam on Tuesday, I thought she had an excellent game. She kept us in it and got the shutout.”
Fort High was slated to resume NorWOSSA action last night against the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints of Kenora (1-0) at the '52 Canadians Arena, with the outcome not known as of press time.
It was also the Muskies' annual “Teddy Bear Toss” game.
The black-and-gold then won't be in action again until they head to Winnipeg for the PCI Saints' Christmas Classic tournament on Dec. 6-7.
“Last year I know there was a bit of a rivalry with that team too, so I think the girls they get fired up for those games,” Clarke said of what she was expecting against the Saints last night.
“We just kind of want to get them with our speed, really making sure that we're the first to the puck and putting the pressure on them right away.”