Sheldon Kelly scored the eventual winner with 3:40 left in the third period to send the Muskie boys’ hockey team to a 6-3 win over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in the opener of the best-of-three NorWOSSA semi-final series last night at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Mikel Ward also netted a hat trick as the black-and-gold gained the upper hand in the series.
Some early penalty trouble proved costly for the Muskies as Ethan Hillhorst opened the scoring for the Saints on a two-man advantage 5:16 into the first period when his slapshot beat Muskie goalie Darian Klem.
Ward then drew the Muskies level later in the frame when he crashed his way towards the net with the puck before jamming it past Saints’ goalie Isaac Fagnilli with 4:40 to go to knot it at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Mason Barclay put the Saints ahead 2-1 nearly midway through the second on another two-man advantage when he fired a shot past Klem shortly after a face-off win in Fort High’s end.
But the Muskies roared back with a pair of short-handed tallies.
Ward collected the bounce of his own dump in into the Saints’ zone off the endboards before firing one home less than a minute later.
Peyton Avis then tipped a shot from the point shortly after that fooled Fagnilli as the Muskies forged ahead 3-2.
Another penalty again spelled disaster for the black-and-gold as Brett Riehl snapped one past Klem with 2:44 left to knot it at 3-3 after 40 minutes.
But Kelly put the Muskies ahead for good late in the third when he blocked a slapshot at the blueline before blazing up the ice and firing a rocket past Fagnilli.
Ward then completed his hat trick when he swiped the puck off of a Saints’ player and buried one into their net to make it 5-3 with 2:34 left in regulation.
Carson Noga capped the scoring with an empty-netter with 46 seconds to go.
Game 2 is set for this afternoon in Kenora.
Game 3, if necessary, will be played back here but a date, time, and venue still is to be determined.