Muskie boys draw first blood

Mitch Calvert

The Muskie boys’ hockey team gained the upper hand in their NorWOSSA semi-final showdown against the Kenora Broncos thanks to a series-opening 5-3 victory here last night.
The win came at a cost, however, as Mike Jourdain, Josh Scott, and David Chambers all left the game early with injuries.
“Josh were not sure about yet,” Muskie coach Shawn Jourdain said. “The [Bronco player] who he hit kind of fell on his ankle, so he’s day-to-day, but we’ll see on Sunday [for Game 2].
“Mike was kind of hobbling on [his knee] but we don’t know if he’ll be out Sunday, and I haven’t talked to Chambers yet,” Jourdain added.
The Muskies already were without defencemen Robbie Rae and Chris Cousineau, which forced Taylor Jorgenson to the blueline for much of the game.
Blake Wepruk opened the scoring quickly, picking the pocket of a Bronco defenceman before streaking in alone and fooling goalie Bradin Seniw on a backhand deke just over four minutes into the game.
Jorgenson then extended the lead to 2-0 with a quick wrist shot from the slot 6:40 into the second period.
The Muskies got another one three minutes later when Donovan Cousineau won an offensive zone face-off directly to Wepruk, who snapped a quick shot high past a surprised Seniw for a 3-0 lead.
The home side’s momentum was halted by a string of penalties after that, forcing them to serve six-successive penalties with many of them of the questionable variety.
The Broncos made them pay on a two-man advantage with less than two minutes left in the second. Jordan Meyers was sent in alone by Jon Hendy and made no mistake, slipping one past Devon Stromness for the visitors’ first goal.
Kenora then closed the deficit to one on the continuation of the power play when Dustin Boucha darted off the side boards and beat Stromness with just 11 seconds before intermission.
“The refereeing wasn’t very good and we knew that, but we’ve got to adjust when it’s like that and we didn’t,” coach Jourdain said. “We still took penalties when we shouldn’t have.
“It’s just a matter of being more disciplined,” he stressed.
The Muskies re-grouped in the third when, just two minutes in, Ryan Shortreed tipped a Jamie Kaun point shot past a screened Seniw for a much-needed insurance marker.
The questionable penalties then started to go against the Broncos, and the Muskies made them pay on a 5-on-3 when Zach McCool banged home a rebound off a Jorgenson shot 11:19 into the third.
Brady Myles scored on a wraparound late in the game to account for the Broncos’ final goal, but the comeback came up well short.
The teams combined for 23 penalties.
The Broncos looked much-improved from the squad that suffered a 13-0 loss to the Muskies on Feb. 15. Part of that reason was the addition of affiliated player Taylor Desserre of the Midget ‘AAA’ Kenora Thistles, who logged a lot of minutes on defence last night.
“It’s the playoffs and they have their backs against the wall trying to keep their season alive,” Jorgenson said after the game.
“We’ve just got to get our feet moving,” he noted. “There were too many people hooking and slashing, too much stick work going on from us.”
Coach Jourdain agreed they’ll need a better effort to close out the series Sunday night in Kenora.
“I thought we didn’t have the jump we usually do, and we’ll need that jump on Sunday,” he stressed.
Game 3, if necessary, would be back here Tuesday night (March 3).
Dryden and Red Lake are squaring off in the other semi-final series, with the two winners then meeting in the best-of-three NorWOSSA final for a chance to advance to the all-Ontarios.
In related news, the Muskie girls’ hockey team opens its best-of-three NorWOSSA semi-final series with the Kenora Broncos tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
Game 2 goes Sunday afternoon in Keewatin, with Game 3, if necessary, back here late Tuesday afternoon.
Dryden is facing the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in the other semi-final match-up.