As last Friday’s contest between the Muskies and the Dryden Eagles wore on, the question wasn’t if the black-and-gold were going to take over but rather when.
Despite being held scoreless in the first period, the Muskies slowly began to dominate the game more and more on every shift. Time and again, the Fort crew came out of the corners with the puck and held the territorial advantage through much of the game.
All they needed was that first goal to break the game open. And once they got it, the rest came fast and furious.
It was Jon Rogoza who finally got the Muskies on the scoreboard at 2:42 of the second period when he wired a slapshot from outside the blueline that handcuffed Dryden’s starting goalie Derrick Lerocq.
After that, the Eagles were never really in the game.
“I think the key for us was our depth. We started to ground them down,” Muskie head coach Glen Edwards said afterwards. “The first period was pretty even and then they started to get tired. And after the five-minute mark of the period, we started to get more chances.
“That first goal helped get the team going,” he agreed.
One of those players was Ross Anderson, who tallied his team-leading 20th and 21st goals of the season (including exhibition games) in the second frame to make it 3-0.
The first came on the power play just seconds off the draw after the Dryden penalty. He later scored on a nifty one-time setup from Adam McTavish that beat Lerocq high on the glove side.
Still, it was the Eagles who came out early in the third with a little bit more life, snapping Jamie Booth’s shutout bid at 6:24 of the period when David Dickey scored.
But that was as close as the Eagles would get as the black-and-gold went on another scoring rampage—netting four goals in a six-minute span midway through the third—to ice the 7-1 win.
Jesse Rodrigues scored twice while Steve Keesic and Dwight Galusha netted singles.
Meanwhile, the defence—shorthanded because Steve Baker and Gary Curtis did not make the trip up to Dryden due to the ’flu—had a good game in holding the Eagles to just one goal.
The forwards also did their part in coming back and picking up their checks, and blocking shots in the defensive end.
Captain Chuck Arpin was one of those players willing to pay the price, sacrificing his body in front of the rubber, but now he is listed as “questionable” for this Friday’s game here against the Kenora Broncos due to a sore knee.
Equally important, the Muskies showed a quality that will help them come playoff time—discipline—as they refused to allow the Eagles to goad them into unnecessary penalties.
In fact, it was Dryden’s top scorer, Brad Bartlett, who showed the most frustration on this night, taking a blatantly undisciplined penalty right at the end of the second period.
“That’s something we’ve worked with the kids on is the discipline,” noted Edwards. “You have to take that kind of stuff [in the playoffs].”
The Muskies improved their league-leading record to 12-2 with the win while the second-place Eagles dropped to 9-4. Edwards said it was an important victory for his team as they prepare for the stretch drive—and what they hope will be a NorWOSSA title and an all-Ontario berth next month in Dryden.
“it was a huge win for us, especially since we struggled against them at home the first time we played them,” he noted. “[But] all along, we thought we had a much better team than Dryden.
“The team is starting to come together, which is want you want in February, and now you start to move into playoff mode,” he added.