Muskies romp in Game 1
If that was the last home game of the season for the Muskie boys’ hockey team, it was one to remember for the home crowd.
The black-and-gold are a win away from yet another NorWOSSA crown after dumping the Kenora Broncos 7-1 at the Ice For Kids Arena last night in Game 1 of their best-of-three final.
“To be honest, we’ve got to worry about the game ahead of us,” stressed head coach Jamie Davis.
“Kenora’s going to be at home and they play a lot better when they’re at home,” he warned.
“Their season is going to be on the line.”
The Muskies kicked things off at 6:25 of the first period when Brett Hahkala and Aaron McDowall set up Braden Webb’s marker.
Chase Ferguson and Tyler VanUden then executed a textbook 2-on-1, with VanUden finishing the play at 17:35 to make it 2-0.
Broncos’ goalie Noah Witzke gave his team a chance—making one outstanding save after another, especially in the first half of the middle frame when he was the only reason the Muskies didn’t capitalize on a two-man advantage that lasted 1:10.
Eastin Gauthier then gave the visitors life at 12:47 when he redirected Jed Rattai’s pass behind Muskie netminder Derek Kaemingh.
But the Muskies’ version of “The Kid Line” responded to the pressure.
Hahkala and Noah Loveday, both call-ups from the Fort Frances Bantam ‘AA’ Canadians this season, have joined forces with Cole Tymkin, the lone Grade 9 player to make the team out of training camp, to provide a speedy, energetic trio for Fort High.
It was Loveday who banged home a rebound of McDowall’s shot at 15:10 to put his team up 3-1.
“It’s nice to prove everyone wrong who thinks that Grade 9’ers can’t do it at this level,” said Loveday.
Kenora then was handed a two-man advantage for 33 seconds shortly thereafter, but were unable to capitalize.
That proved costly as VanUden blasted a shot that dribbled through Witzke’s pads with just 46 seconds left in the second—effectively crushing the Broncos’ spirits.
“You get that many chances to score and you don’t, it’s going to hurt you,” lamented Kenora head coach James Cain.
The Muskies scored three more unanswered goals in the third.
Josh Gouin (36 seconds in) and David Pryde (14:54) netted power-play goals.
Gouin then set up Ferguson, who made a power move around Broncos’ blueliner Alex Smith before beating back-up goalie Lucas Brown, who replaced Witzke after Pryde’s marker.
“We studied the Kenora power play, and we got to know their system pretty good and learn how to stop it,” Gouin said about the Muskies holding Kenora to one goals in eight tries with the man advantage.
The nasty element which usually surfaces when these two rivals get together appeared again with 7:28 to go.
After Tymkin ran over a pair of Broncos with hard hits and wound up with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following the second one, Kenora’s Rhyse Mandamin drove Hahkala’s head into the glass on the opposite side of the ice to earn a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Hahkala skated away but the game was delayed about 10 minutes as penalties were sorted out, followed by Cain holding a prolonged discussion with the referee about the call.
“I hope our guys don’t like the idea of getting embarrassed like this again,” fumed Cain, whose team was flat following a thrilling three-game semi-final victory over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora).
“I hope they find their hearts and are ready to put their best foot forward.”
Game 3, if necessary, will be held Monday at 7:15 p.m. at the IFK Arena.
The Muskie girls, meanwhile, open their best-of-three NorWOSSA final against the Dryden Eagles tomorrow at 7:15 p.m. at the IFK Arena.
Game 2 is set for Sunday afternoon in Dryden, with Game 3 (if necessary) back here Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.
Muskie head coach Scott Clendenning said blueliner Rachel Jean is questionable for Game 1 after sustaining a lower-body injury against Kenora in the semi-finals.
Clendenning also confirmed goalie Kate Parsons will get the starting nod between the pipes tomorrow night.