Matt Spence scored twice to pace the Muskie boys’ hockey team to a narrow 5-4 win over the Saint Thomas Aquinas Saints in Kenora in Game 2 of the best-of-three NorWOSSA semi-final series Thursday afternoon.
With with win, the top-ranked Muskies swept the series and now advance to face the second-place Sioux Lookout Warriors in a rematch of a last year’s best-of-three NorWOSSA final.
Game 1 is set for Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Game 2 then will go Friday night in Sioux Lookout, with Game 3 (if necessary) to be back here on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The third-place Saints opened the scoring early in the first period of Game 2 as they got one past Muskie goalie Darian Klem.
Despite Nolan Mann being sent off for a head contact penalty, Jake Barker evened it with a short-handed marker he fired past Saints’ goalie Isaac Fagnilli to knot it at 1-1.
Mikel Ward then kept the puck on a 2-on-1 chance with Matt Spence before firing one home on a man advantage to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes.
After Ward was hit from behind, Spence made the Saints pay on the ensuing power play when he finished off a feed from Peyton Avis and Connor Nelson to stake the Muskies to a two-goal cushion in the second.
Spence then came through again later in the frame when he tipped in Nelson’s shot to push it to 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Mason Barclay halved the deficit early in third when he made a beautiful move around Muskie forward Nick Gurski before jamming his own rebound past Klem.
But Jace Jackson tallied off a feed from Avis and Ward later in the frame to make it 5-2.
The black-and-gold then took a too-many-men penalty, during which the Saints opted to pull Fagnilli in order to gain a two-man advantage.
The Saints made good as they beat Klem with 1:47 to go to trim it to 5-3.
After a time-out, the Saints pulled Fagnilli once again and Barker almost made them pay for it–but his shot at the empty net went wide for an icing.
That missed proved costly as the Saints then tallied with 57.7 seconds left to trim it to 5-4.
But Klem and the Muskies stood tall from there to hold on for the win.