‘Dynamic duo’ play big role for Muskies

Both are 16 years old. Both are in Grade 11. Both suit up for the Muskie girls’ hockey team. And both are one the same line.
You can go and on about the similarities between Katie McTavish and Sarah O’Sullivan, but probably the biggest likeness is their passion for hockey and their thirst for victory.
It irritates the two that the team is still winless in NorWOSSA play this season, but that disappointment has manifested itself into an even stronger desire to earn that first “w.”
“It’s in the cards. We’re going to win one of these times,” said O’Sullivan. “I just have this feeling, and a win would mean so much because we’ve all worked so hard.”
“It’s hard to lose to [Dryden and Kenora] every game when it counts, but we know we are so close to beating them,” echoed McTavish.
They have the results to back their line of thought. Since the season began in early November, the Muskies have crept ever closer to beating the Eagles and Broncos.
There was that overtime loss to the Eagles at the beginning of the season, and a game against Kenora a few weeks ago in which they notched the first goal but wound up losing 6-2.
Perhaps the main reason why the Muskies have not tasted success in NorWOSSA so far is they haven’t been able to capitalize on their plentiful scoring chances.
“We need to get it in the net. We just can’t seem to do that for some reason,” O’Sullivan remarked.
The Muskies are a paradox, though. They are able to shoot the lights out against teams in exhibition play, with a four-team tournament in Sioux Lookout last weekend being a perfect example.
The black-and-gold opened action against Red Lake and squeaked by with a 3-2 victory. O’Sullivan contributing two goals while Becky Witherspoon netted the other.
Drawing assists were Danielle O’Sullivan (Sarah’s older sister), Hannah Firth, Deanne Saunders, Miranda Kellar, and Francine McCabe.
“Sarah is our top scorer and top point-getter, and it’s really important that she gets the puck,” McTavish said of her linemate, who make up the team’s the second line along with Kellar.
But it was against Dryden where the Muskies again stumbled with a debilitating 6-0 loss, which has been the story for the team all season—they play like powerhouses against non-NorWOSSA teams, but more like Screech from “Saved by the Bell” against league foes.
A 9-1 romp over host Sioux Lookout lends more proof to the above statement. S. O’Sullivan and Firth led the attack with two goals each while D. O’Sullivan, Cortney Caldwell, Carly Holt, McCabe, and McTavish added singles.
McTavish (two), Caldwell (two), Saunders, Jessica Barker, Holt, D. O’Sullivan, S. O’Sullivan, and McCabe had assists.
That set up a return engagement with the Eagles, and a vastly-improved Muskie squad fell by a much more respectable 2-0 margin.
The black-and-gold next will play a pair of exhibition games in Red Lake this coming weekend.
So can the Muskies get things in place for a Cinderella-run come playoff time?
“We definitely want to surprise Kenora in the finals,” said McTavish. “That’s our main goal, and to finally beat Dryden because we’ve been close so many times.
“We want to finally finish them off,” she stressed.
The challenge facing the Muskies is they must take the positive mentality they have in exhibition games and bring it against second-place Dryden, who will be their first-round opponent, and front-running Kenora, who have yet to suffer a loss this season.
“Our team plays not to lose and we need to play to win. That’s really our problem,” said O’Sullivan. “We never have the same strive. Our thoughts against Kenora and Dryden aren’t as positive and our feelings aren’t as directed.
“With exhibition teams, we know we can beat them and we do it,” she added.
“We don’t know what to expect, so we sometimes go into the game differently,” agreed McTavish. “With Kenora and Dryden, we know that they’re really good, so we’re almost scared.”
To get past Dryden come playoff time, the Muskies will be counting on their duo that can only be described as being nothing less than dynamic.
“They work well together. They know where the other one is on the ice and they’ve had success lately, and always get a lot of chances,” said Muskie assistant coach Chris Hill.
With McTavish playing an aggressive style of game that’s concentrated along the boards and O’Sullivan playing a more offensively-tuned role that features a great puck-handling ability, the pair have been valuable pieces on the Muskie chess board.
And will be two of the more important ones come next season.
“We got some good things in place for next year and they will be leaders, and will probably be our top line to be honest because of the success they have together,” said Hill.
But the Muskies must focus on the present rather than the future if they hope to have any success come the playoffs later this month.