Muskie boys cruise to exhibition wins

Prior to the season, the biggest concern for the coaching staff of the Muskie boys’ hockey team was whether or not the squad would be to able to generate enough offence to win games.
But following last weekend’s slate of exhibition games at the Ice for Kids Arena here, it appears scoring goals may not be such a concern after all.
The Muskies lit up the scoreboard against the Green Bay Bobcats and Shattuck St. Mary’s Sabres, outscoring the opposition 27-7 over four games (two games against each squad).
The black-and-gold’s offensive explosion was so unexpected, in fact, that even caught head coach Shane Bliss was caught off guard.
“I was quite surprised, actually, with our output,” he said.
“I think we had 15 or even 16 different goal scorers out there this weekend,” he added. “Sometimes it takes us almost a whole year to get that many different guys on the score sheet.
“I think it’s going to be like that all year. I don’t think we’re going to have one line that’s really going to carry us,” Bliss remarked. “I think we’re going to have a pretty balanced attack all the way through.”
But while Bliss was pleased with the offensive production, he did caution fans not to get overly excited since both the Sabres and Bobcats were faced with some challenging situations over the course of the weekend.
The Sabres took an inordinate amount of penalties in their two games against the Muskies while the Bobcats were missing seven players who were unable to make the trip north of the border.
Bliss knows the going will be much tougher when Red Lake comes to town this Friday and Saturday (Nov. 10-11) to kick off the NorWOSSA season.
“We have to keep things in perspective,” Bliss said. “The focus for right now is Red Lake [this] weekend.
“Red Lake always plays us tough and they’ve got a pretty veteran team,” he noted. “They didn’t lose too many guys so they’re going to be a challenge.”
Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. while Saturday’s goes at noon, both at the Ice for Kids Arena.
Here’s a recap of the Muskies pre-season action from the weekend:
< *c>Muskies vs. Sabres
< *c>(Friday night)
The Muskies saw their first exhibition game action Friday night against the Shattuck St. Mary’s Sabres—and the black-and-gold came out looking to establish the body in the opening minutes.
The home team was rewarded for their effort midway through the period when Sabres’ defenceman John Cocco was sent to the box for an undisciplined retaliatory penalty.
The Muskies wasted little time on the power play as Michael Jourdain skated into the high slot and wired a slapshot low and to the glove side that beat Sabres’ goalie Jared Anderson.
Patrick Bobczynski assisted on the play.
The black-and-gold made it 2-0 just two minutes later when George Halverson and Taylor Jorgenson won the battle along the boards and centered the puck to a wide-open Ryan Witherspoon in front of the Sabres’ goal.
Witherspoon made the most of the opportunity—firing a quick shot past Anderson.
The Sabres cut the Muskie lead to a goal less than two minutes into the second period.
With Jorgenson in the box for holding, Shattuck’s Bill Bruggeman dragged the puck and fired it through a screen to beat Muskie goalie Richard Wieringa.
Josh Little and Ryan Meisters picked up assists.
The Sabres went back on the power play midway through the period when Jamie Kaun was sent off for holding. However, it was the Muskies who would tally despite being shorthanded.
Kyle Turgeon stole the puck from Sabres’ defenceman Daiki Nagata while forechecking deep in the Shattuck zone.
He then skated out of the corner and waited for Anderson to make a move before roofing the puck into the top half of the net to restore the Muskies’ two-goal lead.
Up 3-1, Fort High started the third period on the penalty kill with Jorgenson back in the box for holding.
And the Sabres capitalized when Casey Ray made several moves against a Muskie defender, skated out of the corner, and then dished off the puck to a wide-open Paul Barral in front of the net.
Barral beat Wieringa with a quick shot from point-blank range. Bruggeman earned his second point of the night with an assist.
The black-and-gold restored their two-goal advantage midway through the period when a rebound found its way onto Blake Wepruk’s stick.
Wepruk made no mistake depositing it into the back of the net to increase the Muskie lead to 4-2. Matthew Hebert and Matt DePiero drew the assists.
Wepruk’s marker proved to be the turning point in the game as the Sabres unravelled shortly thereafter, committing a string of undisciplined penalties.
The Muskies got power-play play goals from Jorgenson and Michael McCaig, while Mitch Green added another goal off of a Sabres’ turnover, en route to a 7-2 victory.
< *c>Muskies vs. Bobcats
< *c>(Saturday night)
The Muskies certainly got off to an ideal start Saturday night against the Green Bay Bobcats, scoring the opening marker just over a minute into the first period.
The Bobcat defender lost the puck in front of his own net and Muskie forward Kyle Turgeon was there to collect it. Turgeon dragged the puck to his right, waited for the goalie to commit, and then fired a shot into the yawning cage.
The hosts then made it 2-0 less than three minutes later when Matthew McLellan broke in alone on the breakaway. His shot was stopped, but Joe Basaraba buried the rebound.
The early deficit seemed to rattle Green Bay as they began taking undisciplined penalties midway through the period. And the Muskies made them pay for their indiscretions by tallying their third goal on the power play.
Basaraba and Mitch Green worked the puck down low before passing it back to defenceman Cody McCool, who took three strides off the blueline and fired a laser high and to the glove side.
With the game in danger of becoming a rout in the first period, the Bobcats stepped up their offensive attack, and the increased pressure paid off minutes later when Scotty Opolka tipped a Cory Hart dish past Muskie goalie David Moen to cut the lead to 3-1.
But the Muskies would regain their three-goal advantage just 20 seconds later when George Halverson scored on a one-timer from the slot.
Ryan Witherspoon and Taylor Jorgenson collected the assists.
Muskie Patrick Bobczynski then netted a short-handed tally with just under three-and-a-half minutes left in the opening period to make it a four-goal cushion.
Zachary McCool and Michael Jourdain earned the assists.
With the black-and-gold holding a comfortable 5-1 lead as the period wound down, the Bobcats’ frustration boiled over.
A melee broke out in the Bobcat crease and several punches were thrown, resulting in numerous penalties—the most severe of which saw Bobczynski handed a match penalty for hitting from behind.
The second period began in eventful fashion when the Green Bay coach was ejected from the game.
The coach had received a bench minor for arguing what he thought should have been a penalty against the Muskies. The call enraged him and his subsequent profanity-laced tirade earned him an early exit.
The Muskies added to their lead midway through the second period on a seemingly harmless play. Jourdain took a weak backhand off of the draw that somehow squeezed through the goalie’s pads.
The bad blood between the two teams continued in the second period as both squads made frequent trips to the penalty box. As such, much of the period was spent playing four-on-four hockey.
It was during one such stretch that Muskie Matthew Hebert re-directed a Brian Glavish point shot for a goal—putting the black-and-gold up 7-1.
Witherspoon earned an assist for his second point of the night.
The third period was scoreless.
< *c>Muskies vs. Bobcats
< *c>(Sunday morning)
The Muskies then faced the Bobcats in the re-match early Sunday morning.
Both teams appeared sluggish to start the game—most likely due to the 8:30 a.m. puck drop—and neither side generated many chances in the first period.
The black-and-gold finally opened the scoring in the second period while on the power play.
Ryan Witherspoon circled out from behind the Bobcat goal and took several whacks at the puck before finally sliding it past Steve Glapa.
Taylor Jorgenson and George Halverson each earned assists on the play.
The Bobcats got a goal of their own 30 seconds later when Tommy Ryther hammered a loose puck in the slot past Muskie goalie Richard Wieringa to even the score at 1-1.
However, the home team would regain the lead with less than two minutes left in the period when Ryan McDowall fired a hard shot from the slot.
Glapa got a piece of it but could not keep it from trickling over the goal-line and the Muskies led 2-1 after two periods of play.
The Muskies increased their lead to 3-1 just past the midway point of the third period when Halverson broke in on a breakaway. Glapa made the initial save but could not corral the rebound and Witherspoon was there to bury it.
Jorgenson picked up the other assist on the play.
The Bobcats cut the lead to 3-2 with less than four minutes to go when Dillon Raunio redirected a Steve McCall shot past Wieringa. Scott Huculak picked up the second assist.
The black-and-gold sealed the victory when Matthew Hebert scored an empty-net goal to make the final 4-2.
< *c>Muskies vs. Sabres
< *c>(Sunday morning)
The Muskies wrapped up their four-game exhibition series with a rematch against the Sabres immediately following their Green Bay game Sunday morning.
Shattuck appeared to be the fresher team early on as they opened the scoring with six-and-a-half minutes left in the first period.
Sabres’ forward Casey Ray collected a rebound at the side of the net and roofed a shot over a sprawling David Moen for the 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Ryan Witherspoon was sent to the penalty box for slashing and the Sabres wasting little time capitalizing on the man-advantage.
Ryan Meisters fired a hard shot that Moen got a piece of but couldn’t stop completely. The puck dribbled behind him before Josh Little tapped it over the line for the 2-0 lead.
The black-and-gold would cut into the Sabres’ lead before the end of the period on the power play.
George Halverson scored on a one-timer, receiving the pass from Witherspoon. Patrick Bobczynski collected the second assist.
The Sabres’ lead did not last long, though, as the Muskies exploded for five goals in the second period.
Zach McCool tallied a power-play marker midway through the frame to tie the game at 2-2. Matthew Hebert was credited with the assist.
Brian Glavish was next to get on the board, netting a rebound behind Sabres’ goalie Kurt Williams. Michael McCaig and Basaraba drew the assists.
Bobczynski then got into the act, wiring a slapshot from the point that beat Williams high and to the glove side. Witherspoon and Taylor Jorgenson assisted on that goal.
Kyle Turgeon scored minutes after that on a backhand shot from the slot. Z. McCool and Glavish each picked up their second points of the game on the goal.
Kyle Turgeon capped the scoring in the period by adding a power-play goal when he swept through the slot and beat Williams with a good wrist shot.
The Sabres got into penalty trouble in the third period and the Muskies pressed their advantage on the power play, scoring three times.
McCaig fired a puck that somehow found its way through a tangle of bodies in front of the Sabres’ goal and into the back of the net for the Muskies’ seventh goal.
Matt DePiero was credited with the assist.
Witherspoon added the second power-play goal of the period a minute later when he redirected a Cody McCool shot between his legs to beat Williams.
And Halverson completed the dominant Muskie performance by tipping in a Jorgenson centering pass with less than two minutes to play.
When all was said and done, the Muskies had scored nine unanswered goals en route to the 9-2 victory.