Muskies’ season ends with tough loss

Cinderella wasn’t able to put on her slipper as the Muskies’ fairytale-like performance at the all-Ontarios in Windsor ended with a tough 1-0 defeat Friday afternoon in the quarter-finals against the St. Michael’s Double Blues (Toronto).
But the Muskies had no reason to hang their heads since they weren’t expected to make any noise at the tourney with their 17th-ranked seeding.
“We were only one shot away [from the medal round]. We had the pressure on them, but we just couldn’t get one by them,” said Muskie head coach Shane Bliss.
“We were a bit of a Cinderella story [at Windsor] and it was nice for us to open up a lot of eyes,” he added.
The Muskies certainly opened more than a few eyes by advancing out of their pool—considered by many as the toughest of the four—with a 2-1-1 record that included a 1-1 tie Thursday afternoon against the top-ranked St. Mary Monarchs (Pickering).
After winning their first two games, beating the St. Thomas More Knights of (Hamilton) 6-3 on Wednesday morning and then the Chatham-Kent Golden Hawks 3-1 the following morning, the Muskies only had a few hours to prepare for the Monarchs.
Jason Green proved to be the deciding factor, playing an amazing game between the pipes to give the black-and-gold the tie in a game they probably should have won when looking back.
“We were pretty mad about the 17th ranking, and we wanted to show that it’s wrong and that we should be the number-one team down here,” Green said after being interviewed by Dave Grossman of the Toronto Star.
“I think we’re starting to make a few ripples in the pool here,” Bliss had noted after the 1-1 tie with the Monarchs (who went on to lose their quarter-final match to the Robert F. Hall Wolfpack of Caledon East).
St. Michael’s went on to lose the bronze-medal game Saturday to the Wolfpack while Michael Power/St. Joseph (Etobicoke) captured the gold over the Eastview Wildcats (Barrie).
The Muskies had advanced to the quarter-finals even before taking the ice Friday morning against
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the ninth-ranked Orangeville Bears, who beat the black-and-gold 4-2.
“I think the thought that we were already in the quarter-finals got in some guys’ heads and we just broke down,” said Andrew Easton.
“We just lost focus and didn’t play as hard as we should’ve,” echoed Brock Benjamin.
The Muskies came as close as one could come to beating St. Michael’s.
“I said that they can’t hang their heads,” Bliss replied when asked what he had just told the team after their quarter-final loss that ended their season.
“I know it’s disappointing that the season’s over, but they did a [heck] of a job and they worked their butts off, and they kept coming back and kept getting stronger and stronger,” he added.