If their first game is any indication, the Muskie girls' hockey team should fare just fine in league play this season.
The Muskies used a pair of first-period goals to nab a 3-0 shutout win over the Broncos in Kenora in the NorWOSSA regular season-opener for both teams last Tuesday afternoon.
“We were extremely impressed with their ability to execute what we have been doing in practice in terms of our forecheck, pressuring the puck, and creating scoring opportunities,” first-year Muskie head coach Nicole Clarke said of her team.
“I think it is important to get that two-goal lead on the road. We really want the girls to focus on coming out strong and setting the tone right off at puck drop.”
The Muskies are hopeful for a return trip to the NorWOSSA final this season and got off to a great start against the host Broncos (0-1) last week.
Issy Taylor opened the scoring for the black-and-gold (1-0) early in the first period as she took a pass into the slot and chipped the puck from in-tight over the glove of Broncos' goalie Emma Bushey.
Paiten Kinnear then fooled Bushey with a long-range shot that she fired from near the left point later in the frame to put the Muskies up by two after 20 minutes.
“I think all of the girls contributed to our win, all of our lines had scoring opportunities and worked well together,” Clarke lauded.
“Our defence was strong and worked hard and Jersey [Masson] was outstanding in goal.”
Ashlyn Beck rounded out the scoring in the second period after the Muskies got some pressure down low and she backhanded home a rebound in the slot.
Jersey Masson was dialed in between the pipes and turned aside all the shots she faced to earn the shutout.
Clarke said she is confident in both her goalies in Masson and Kamryn Sandelovich and feels Masson's great game will be a great confidence booster moving forward in league play.
“I think the first win of the regular season for Jersey was awesome,” she enthused.
"We are confident in both of our goalies and both will be playing in big games for us this season.
“I think for Jersey, nabbing a shutout in the first win of the regular season was great for her and the team moving forward,” she reasoned.
While overall she was pleased with her squad's performance in the season-opening win in Kenora, Clarke did concede that the Muskies' execution could have been better.
“Our biggest thing was just not being able to capitalize on scoring opportunities,” she recalled.
“We hit a few posts and missed some open nets.”
The Muskies were slated to resume NorWOSSA action last night when they welcomed the defending league champion Dryden Eagles to the '52 Canadians Arena, with the outcome not known as of press time.
Fort High was swept in the best-of-three NorWOSSA final by the Eagles last year but Clarke stressed that her charges are only focusing on the future and not the past.
“In terms of our matchup against Dryden Tuesday, we are not necessarily thinking of the outcome of last season, but more focused on what we want to accomplish this year,” she noted last week.
“We are looking to come out strong off the bat and get the puck to the net, capitalizing on all scoring opportunities.”
The Muskies then will conclude the week on Saturday when they head to International Falls to face the Broncos in the opener of their annual two-game “Border Battle” exhibition series.
Puck drop is slated for 3 p.m. at Bronco Arena.