Close not good enough: coach

Jamie Mountain

Muskie boys’ hockey team head coach Jordan Sinclair was all too familiar with Monday night’s outcome.
While the squad is an impressive 8-0 in NorWOSSA regular-season play, it’s how they’ve come up short time and again in exhibition games and tournaments that has left him scratching his head.
“We’ve been close [to winning in exhibition games] for a long time but as I said to the guys, I’m getting a little sick and tired of being close,” Sinclair said after Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the International Falls Broncos at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“It’s time to start winning some of those, so maybe we’ll find a break and a bounce our way.
“Once you experience that, and you experience winning instead of being close, it can make a big difference,” he stressed.
With the win, the Broncos swept the “Border Battle” series after taking their first meeting 5-4 in overtime back on Dec. 22 in the Falls.
After a back-and-forth scoreless first period, Trevor Becvar opened the scoring for the Broncos when he capitalized on a Muskie turnover and beat Darian Klem unassisted with 11:03 to go in the second.
Jake Barker then evened it at 1-1 with 9:17 to go in the frame, undressing Broncos’ goalie Jake Klow for a beauty.
Kaden Nelson and Jace Jackson drew the assists.
Simon Palm put the Broncos back in front when he intercepted an errant Muskie clearing attempt and promptly deposited it with 11:58 left in the third period.
“I’m disappointed that we lost, because I hate losing, but I’m not disappointed in the sense that I didn’t think we played well,” Sinclair said.
“I think that we did play well,” he stressed. “I think we should have scored four times in the second period and that’s the difference in the game.
“We have a great opportunity, we miss a few chances, can’t get our stick on a few chances in scrums, the kid [Klow] makes one or two incredible saves.
“And then you turn around in the third period, and that’s usually how it goes, they get a crazy bounce like that off the end boards, where our guy is trying to do the right thing, and then it ends up in the back of your net before you got time to blink,” Sinclair remarked.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened that way but like I said, it happens quite often.”
The Muskies pulled Klem in the late stages of the game in favour of an extra attacker but couldn’t net the equalizer to force overtime.
Klem took the loss, finishing with 24 saves, while Klow made 27 stops to earn the win.
The black-and-gold were slated to face the host Sioux Lookout Warriors yesterday in NorWOSSA action, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather.
A make-up date will be announced in the near future.
The squad next will be in action at the annual Piper Classic tournament in Winnipeg, which runs tomorrow through Sunday.
Sinclair has some areas in mind that the squad can improve upon to make sure they have success this weekend.
“I like a lot about the way we played [on Monday night],” he said. “[But] our power play certainly needs to be much better.
“It has to have a lot more jam and intensity to it, and we’ve talked about that and addressed that.
“We know going forward, because I think it was ultimately the deciding factor in this game tonight [Monday] and same as we were over there, too,” Sinclair added.
“Unfortunately, sometimes those lessons learned are the toughest ones.”