60-minute effort proving elusive for Muskie boys

Lucas Punkari

It’s been a “Jekyll and Hyde” routine for the Muskie boys’ hockey team of late.
On some nights, the squad comes out firing on all eight cylinders.
But in other contests, the black-and-gold pull a Rip Van Winkle act in the opening frame before stirring to life over the following 40 minutes.
After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead before easing off the gas pedal a bit in their 5-1 NorWOSSA win over the Kenora Broncos back on Jan. 13, the Muskies fell behind 2-1 in the opening frame in an exhibition game against the visiting Baudette Bears before scoring four unanswered goals to win 5-2 last Tuesday (Jan. 17).
Despite the issues, Muskie head coach Shawn Jourdain is pleased with his squad’s overall progress.
“You can’t be disappointed with every game,” he stressed. “And you know what, we are getting there.
“Tonight [Jan. 17] we did a lot of gliding in the first period,” he noted. “And when you are not skating all that well, other teams will take advantage of that.
“But the effort in the second and the third period was a lot better than at the start of the game,” Jourdain added.
While Jourdain likes aspects of his team’s play, the players themselves know they need to play a full game in order to be successful come season’s end.
“We need to come out faster and play like that for the whole game, and everybody here knows that,” said Tarran Romyn.
“We [have] got to learn that we have to play hard every shift, and that is something I think will happen here before the playoffs,” added goalie Scott Parsons.
Despite having the puck for most of the time in their end for the first period, and also jumping to an early lead thanks to a goal by Ryan Windigo in the slot, the Muskies found themselves trailing 2-1 after a power-play marker by Cole Nelson and a goal from Bryson Jasper after a scramble in front of the net.
The player most disappointed with the fact the home side had fallen behind was Parsons as the Grade 11 netminder was kicking himself over the goals he allowed.
“The first goal was kind of a chintzy one to give up, and the second one was, as well, but what can you do,” he sighed.
“Plus their goalie [Doug Potts] was playing really good, as well, so it was sort of back and forth from that point on when it came down to saves,” Parsons said.
While Parsons felt his overall performance wasn’t as strong as it could have been, Jourdain felt that his goalie’s showing was just as good as it has been since the Muskies were in Duluth for a tournament at the end of December.
“He knew that he should [have] had those goals that he gave up early on, but he didn’t give up anything after that and he played very well,” the coach lauded.
“He’s also been out there handling the puck a lot better lately, as well, and that makes it a lot easier on our defence, especially when you are out there on the penalty kill,” he reasoned.
Once both squads returned from their dressing rooms for the second period, momentum began to swing back in the Muskies’ direction as Romyn and Nick Jourdain each found scored to give Fort High a 3-2 lead.
Romyn, who scored on the power play, was a key contributor to the black-and-gold’s comeback as he assisted on a goal by Jeff Davis with the man advantage in the third period—and also caused a puck to split in half after his shot from the point smashed into the end boards.
“I don’t what the deal with those pucks are as we’ve had quite a few lately in practice,” Romyn said.
“The coaches must be getting a little cheap in the puck department,” he laughed.
Having started the season as a blueliner, Romyn has been moved up to the forward position in the last couple of games to help provide a spark for the Muskies early on—and to strike fear into their opponents.
“They want me to go out there and let their defence and forwards know that we are going to be coming hard and hitting them all game, and so far that has been working out good for out benefit,” the Grade 12 student said.
“Tarran has really been stepping up his game and playing well as of late,” Jourdain agreed.
“He’s so darn fast that he creates trouble out there with his speed. And if the other guys follow suit with that, we will become a dangerous team,” he stressed.
Nick Kaun completed the scoring for the Muskies with a power-play goal in the final seconds against Baudette, which was the third marker with the man advantage during the contest.
That success with the extra attacker helped make up for the fact that early on in the game, the Muskies failed to cash in on a pair of four-minute power-plays.
“We were a lot more patient in the second half and we were working around the puck a little bit more,” Jourdain noted.
“If you are just going to make one pass on the power play to a set play, you are going to end up in trouble,” he stressed.
“But if you work the puck around and make the other team get off balance, you can take advantage of that.”
With Fort High in the midst of exams, the Muskies are off from league play until next Tuesday (Jan. 31) when they host the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Prior to that, though, the black-and-gold will head over of the border for a pair of exhibition contests against Kittson and Red Lake Falls, Mn. this Friday and Saturday, respectively.