Muskies force Game 3 against Eagles

It may not have the same feeling as a Game 7, but a Game 3 in NorWOSSA has equal value nonetheless.
The Muskie boys’ hockey team beat the Eagles 4-3 here yesterday afternoon to force a third-and-deciding game tomorrow night in Dryden with the NorWOSSA gold medal—and a trip to the all-Ontarios—on the line.
“I had a pretty good feeling that [my players] would pull this one out and that we could have a Game 3,” Muskie head coach Shane Bliss said after yesterday’s thrilling win at the Ice for Kids Arena.
The black-and-gold went into the game with their backs to the wall as the Eagles won the series opener 5-2 on Friday night in Dryden.
That game saw the Eagles take advantage of their obvious size advantage, bullying their way to the front of the net and making things difficult for Muskie goalie Jason Green, who was battling a cold and “was just totally exhausted and I had no energy for the game.”
Dryden jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Muskies were able to get one back with 10 seconds left in the second period when Brian White (Tyler Miller) scored.
The Eagles regained their three-goal cushion seven minutes into the third, but Lucas Romaniuk (David Pierce/Tyler Pocock) drew the Muskies within 4-2.
Dryden iced the victory with an empty-net goal.
“We played hard, but we just couldn’t get anything going tonight,” said Muskie forward Brock Benjamin. “I can’t wait until Sunday, let’s put it that way.”
And come Sunday, the Muskies fed off the impressive crowd on hand, which created that unique playoff atmosphere that had been lacking thus far in the post-season.
“I looked at the beginning at the crowd and I thought, ‘Oh, not bad,’ but then they just kept coming and coming,” noted Bliss. “It was a really nice crowd by the end of the night and we really appreciate their support.”
The Muskies gave them something to cheer about less than a minute into the game when Brett Meyers wired a shot from the point that left Dryden goalie Jon Furkalo motionless.
And they had more reason to cheer three minutes later as Jake Esselink (Brett Perreault) pounced on a loose rebound in front to give the Muskies a quick 2-0 lead.
“That’s what we said—we’ve got to shoot the puck and get some shots on net,” said Bliss. “I was surprised that we jumped out to a 2-0 lead. I mean it was bang, bang, and we were up, but I didn’t think it was over by any means.”
Bliss was right as Scott Lund of Dryden notched two goals to tie the game entering the second period.
White gave the Muskies a 3-2 lead two minutes into the second when he put away the puck after a nice set-up from Mitch Green and Alex McQuarrie, but Dryden once again answered as Dustin Harrington scored on what would be considered a “soft goal.”
But Green made up for things by holding onto the Muskie lead after Perreault converted on what would be the game-winning goal with 6:33 left in the second.
“I just saw them rushing in and I had the opportunity to come in, and Brock Benjamin just slipped the puck over to me and I just slid the puck back,” said Perreault.
“I actually didn’t mean to score, I was trying to pass it to Tyler Pocock,” he admitted. “But then it got deflected and went into the back of the net.”
Josh Sigurdson also drew an assist on the game-winner.
So the top two teams in NorWOSSA will play for all the marbles tomorrow night. But Green, who will be between the pipes again for the Muskies, said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It has to come down to this,” he remarked.

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