Austin Armstrong scored twice to pace the Muskie boys’ hockey team to a 4-2 win over the International Falls Broncos in the finale of their annual two-game “Border Battle” exhibition series Thursday night in front of a full house at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The Muskies swept the series after taking the opener 4-1 back on Dec. 21 in the Falls.
Jaxon Gartzke opened the scoring for the black-and-gold just 1:17 into Thursday’s game when he buried the rebound of Josh Ward’s shot over the pad of Broncos’ goalie Max Marcotte.
The Broncos upped the pressure from there, however, and forced Muskie goalie Darian Klem to make a number of difficult saves.
That persistence paid off later in the second period when Brady Wicklund dangled the puck around the Muskie defence before skating in on Klem and putting a backhander past him with 5:34 to go to knot it at 1-1.
After Muskie defenceman Jace Dittaro was cross-checked into the boards from behind, Armstrong made the Broncos pay on the ensuing power play when he banked the puck off of Marcotte’s back and in with 2:09 to go.
Armstrong then tallied his second of the night just 32 seconds into the third when his snapshot from the point eluded Marcotte top shelf to make it to 3-1.
Wicklund brought the Broncos back within one when he tallied his second of the night on a centering pass.
The visitors pulled Marcotte with 1:25 to go in an effort to force overtime but Carson Noga notched a last-second empty-netter to cap the scoring.
The second-place Muskies, who currently sport a 9-2 record in NorWOSSA play, resume league action this Thursday (Feb. 7) when they hit the road to face the third-place St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (7-4) in Kenora.
Then they’ll have back-to-back games against the top-ranked Sioux Lookout Warriors (11-1) there this Sunday and Monday (Feb. 10-11).