Usually, coming away with a victory in the first regular-season game on home ice would bring a smile to most coaches’ face.
For Muskie bench boss Shawn Jourdain, however, the 3-2 shootout win over the Kenora Broncos left him looking for more from his squad.
“We still have a lot of things to work on going ahead, and that’ll start at our next practice,” he stressed.
“When we play according to our game plan, we do a great job at that,” he noted. “But there are times where the guys think that they can get away from it and do their own thing, and that’s when we run into problems.
“Plus, I don’t like the fact that we had to go to another shootout,” added Jourdain, who had watched his team lose in a shootout in Kenora back on Nov. 15.
Jourdain’s frustration with the Muskies not sealing the deal in either regulation or overtime was easy to see. Even though the black-and-gold controlled play for lengthy periods of time, they were unable to capitalize on most of their scoring chances.
“We had the puck down in their end for the majority of the game,” he recalled. “But instead of just focusing on the systems, the guys would just try other things and get away from that.
“It’s still early in the year but we need to work on fixing that up because if we don’t, it could be a problem as we go along,” he warned.
The visiting Broncos opened the scoring in the first period on a bit of a strange play. Muskie goalie Scott Parsons tried to poke the puck away from the front of the net, only to see RJ Bruce slide it into the goal.
“I think if I hadn’t allowed that goal, the whole game would have changed as we had the momentum at that point,” Parsons said afterwards.
A couple of minutes after Bruce’s goal, the game took a serious turn when Kenora forward Jon Neniska suffered a broken left femur and a dislocated left knee on a play in the corner, which resulted in a delay as medical staff helped the ninth-grader off the ice.
“It wasn’t a dirty play or anything like that, it was just an unfortunate situation,” said Broncos’ coach Martin Straight said.
“Jon’s one of those guys who works hard all of the time, and he’s already contributed with a few big goals for us this year, so he’s definitely going to be missed and we hope he can come back as quickly as possible,” Straight added.
“But he’s obviously going to be out for a while.”
When the game resumed, the momentum slowly turned towards the Muskies. Early in the second period, Tyler Mosbeck raced in on goal and scored on a breakaway to tie the game at 1-1.
Fort High then grabbed the lead later in the period on a power play as Robbie Rea fired a shot past Broncos’ goalie Brandin Seniw after taking a feed from Ryan Windigo.
Despite having a couple of scoring chances early in the third, the Muskies found themselves tied up once again near the halfway mark of the frame when Eastin Gauthier slid the puck past Parsons.
And even though both teams had power-play chances during the rest of the third period and through the five-minute overtime, no one was able to break the 2-2 deadlock, which led to another shootout.
While the black-and-gold shooters had trouble finding the back of the net through the first three rounds, the Broncos were stymied on their four attempts by Parsons, who made a number of big pad saves.
“I had lost the last couple of shootouts that I had been in, so I was really determined not to let that happen to me again,” Parsons stressed.
“I was a little bit surprised, though, that all of the shooters were going low on me as I honestly figured somebody was eventually going to try and shoot high,” he added.
The fourth shooter for the Muskies was Mosbeck, who made no mistake as he put a wrist shot by Seniw to give his team the victory.
“As I was heading down the ice, I just aimed for the bottom of the net,” Mosbeck recalled.
“I was pretty surprised that the shot ended up going in, but I was also really excited that I was able to get the guys the win,” he smiled.
Although his team had lost a close one to the perennial NorWOSSA front-runners, Straight still was pleased with how the team performed on their first trip to the Ice For Kids Arena this season.
“Any time that you can come into Fort Frances and come away with at least a point, you will take it as a coach,” he reasoned.
“Overall, I thought we matched up well with the Muskies during the game, and I honestly think that you are going to see that a lot this year no matter who we are playing as this league is very even,” Straight added.
Following a league showdown with the Dryden Eagles here last night (the outcome wasn’t known as of press time), the Muskies now hit the road for the annual Victoria Inn tournament in Brandon, Man., with their first game taking place tomorrow night (Dec. 1) against the home-town Vincent Massey Vikings.
“We go there every year, and that’s always a big test as you get to see some of the very best teams in Manitoba,” Jourdain noted.
“I think that might just be a very big wake-up call for the guys at that tournament because if we play like we did here against those really good teams in Brandon, we won’t be able to get away with it like we did tonight [last Tuesday],” he stressed.