They have been defeated.
Facing some of the toughest competition they’ve seen all season, the Muskie boys’ hockey team lost 4-0 last Thursday to the number-one ranked team in Minnesota—Marshall Hill of Duluth—in the final of a three-day tournament there.
“We did not play our best hockey all week,” noted Muskie head coach Shane Bliss. “We need to get better starts to our games. We seem to finish strong, but we need to play three full periods.”
The first period of the final was even, with the Muskies having two great scoring chances which they failed to convert.
Although the shots on goal were even after one, Duluth had scored about five minutes into the game and took a 1-0 lead into the second period.
Duluth dominated play in the second period, outshooting the black-and-gold 15-3 while picking up another goal to make it 2-0.
Duluth then tallied on consecutive power plays in the third to round out the scoring.
“These schools from the States live to play high school hockey,” Bliss remarked. “They play with a lot of passion and we need to find that, as well.
“When you play good hockey teams, you cannot expect to freewheel like you have done against teams that are not of that calibre,” he explained.
The black-and-gold had opened action last Tuesday with a 5-2 win over Superior—the two-time defending tourney champions and last year’s Wisconsin state champs.
After a scoreless first period, Lucas Romaniuk put the Muskies up 1-0 seven minutes into the second on the power play. Tyler Miller and Brian White drew the assists.
Then just two minutes later, White scored to make it 2-0 (assisted by Miller).
Superior cut the gap to 2-1 with two minutes left in the second.
Romaniuk, from Kevin Bobczynski, netted his second of the game on the power play about two minutes into the third period to give the Muskies a 3-1 lead.
Alex McQuarrie then scored during four-on-four action. Bobczynski once again drew the assist.
Superior drew to within 4-2 with 10 minutes to go, but Bobczynski (Romaniuk) tallied just 20 seconds later to seal the victory.
The Muskies then beat Hudson, Wis. 5-3, which gave them a berth in the final.
Hudson had opened the scoring on the power play seven minutes into the game before White (Miller/Mitch Green) knotted the score at 1-1.
Brock Benjamin tallied a short-handed goal early in the second before Romaniuk took a pass from Brett Meyers and notched one two minutes later.
Hudson battled back to make the score 3-2 with six minutes left in the period. But the Muskies regained their two-goal lead just 10 seconds later when Meyers (Mike McCaig) tallied.
Matt Redford made it 5-2 just over two minutes into the third. Hudson then capped the scoring while enjoying a four-minute two-man advantage.
“We need to get better when the going gets tough. Right now we are taking too many bad penalties and we are not staying composed,” Bliss stressed. “We are struggling, fighting through the adversity.
“In order for us to be successful when it counts the most, we need to address these things and learn how to win against excellent teams,” he warned.
The squad returns to action Jan. 6-8 at a tournament in Winnipeg, which Bliss said will be an almost mirror image of the all-Ontarios in March as far as the set-up and the calibre of teams.
“This will be a test for our team to learn to play tough games and find ways to win them, not to lose them,” Bliss noted.
They have been defeated.