Tournament play seems to suit the Muskie girls’ hockey team just fine.
Even though the squad has yet to ice a full lineup, the black-and-gold have medalled at all three tournaments so far this season, including winning silver in Portage la Prairie, Man. over the weekend.
Fort High fell 4-2 to the Pembina Tigers in the tourney final.
The metallic infusion comes in at a handy time. After opening the week with an exhibition game against Baudette last night in Emo (the score was unavailable by press time), the Muskies are slated to play NorWOSSA rivals Kenora and Dryden on the road tomorrow and Friday, respectively.
Fort High (1-4 in league play) already has dropped two decisions to Kenora and one to Dryden, so earning some points this week is crucial to a rally in the standings.
The team is close given the margin of defeat in each loss was either one goal, or two with an empty-netter.
The black-and-gold are hobbled by injuries, however, making the busy week a challenging one.
“Thursday and Friday is going to be really tough for us,” head coach Mel Langtry acknowledged.
“Going down there with two-and-a-half lines might be tough, but that’s something we’ll have to work through and try their best and get through that week,” he stressed.
The defence was down to three regulars at various points this past weekend as neither Sydney Jones nor Kimmy Holt made the trip, and Nicole Horn was injured.
In terms of forwards, Alyssa Penner didn’t play while Shelby Tymkin was hampered by a nagging injury.
Still, Langtry noted his young blueliners seemed to have started to put some pieces together over the weekend, improving their fundamentals while keeping things simple.
“We’ve been working on a couple different breakouts, so those worked really nice,” he lauded.
“They seem to be a little more confident and a little more at ease at what they’re doing.
“They’re not trying to push the puck through three or four sticks,” he noted. “They’ll just throw it in the corner or up the side of the boards, and it seems to be working.
“At home, it seems to be a little different story. They seem to do a little bit too much,” Langtry added.
“Overall, we were really happy with the defence. It wasn’t their fault that we lost that last game, by any means.”
The Muskies had finished the round-robin portion of the 10-team tournament in first place overall to advance to the final.
Once there, however, Fort High fell to Pembina—their perennial thorn in the side. The Tigers have won the Muskies’ home tourney each of the last two seasons.
Fort High certainly was early on in the tournament, routing the Garden City Gophers (Winnipeg) 10-1 in their first opener.
Jillian Langtry came through with a hat trick and seven points overall, with Shae-lynn Smith and Ericka Tymkin adding two goals apiece.
Katie Sinclair, Shelby Rea, and Jessica Taggart notched the other three goals.
Then in their second game, Fort High rolled over host Portage 8-1.
Langtry and Smith both notched hat tricks in that one while Ericka Tymkin and Shelby Tymkin tallied a goal apiece.
Fort High concluded group play with a 7-1 trouncing of St. Norbert. Langtry and Taggart each scored twice, with defenders Melanie Scott and Danielle Jean netting singles.
Sinclair rounded out the scoring.
But in the final against Pembina, Fort High allowed a pair of goals about a minute apart in the first period to fall behind 2-0.
Then after the Muskies failed to score on a pair of breakaways in the third, Pembina went up 3-0.
Scott and Smith brought the black-and-gold to within 3-2, but Pembina sealed the gold medal with an empty-netter late in the third.
“We rallied in the third, we really took it to ’em,” recalled Langtry. “The last five minutes, we just pressed and pressed.”
However, the power play is an area of concern for the Muskies, with its ineffectiveness costing them some glorious scoring chances.
“We do have to work on our power play, so [Monday] we’ll get right back on that and take advantage of some of those opportunities we had and we missed on them,” Langtry explained.
“We had a couple of times where we could have gotten back into it, but we just couldn’t get set up in their end,” he noted.
Langtry said the Tigers are a sturdy team through and through, and are hoping to finally topple them at Pembina’s home tourney at the end of January.
“We’ve got a little connection with them, but we just can’t seem to get it past them,” he remarked.
“Hopefully we’ll get ’em back,” he added. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Before then, Langtry is just hoping to ice his full lineup for the first time this season.
He noted the Muskies called up a player from the local minor hockey association for last Tuesday’s exhibition game over in International Falls, and had the option of utilizing a Bantam or two for last night’s game versus Baudette in Emo.
However, the squad would need to officially sign a player before using her in NorWOSSA play.
“We’ll try to get by this week with what we have, and then re-evaluate,” he reasoned.
Other than the annual alumni game on Dec. 27, the Muskies are off until Jan. 6 when they kick off the John Taylor Pipers’ tournament in Winnipeg.