With the black-and-gold dam springing leaks, Cooper Witherspoon stepped in to be the “little Dutch boy.”
Witherspoon stifled an opposition rally by scoring what ended up being the decisive goal in a 6-4 win for the Muskie boys’ hockey team over the Chippewa Falls (Wis.) Cardinals yesterday in their first game of a six-team exhibition showcase in Thief River Falls, Mn.
Fort High had led 4-1 in the third period before back-to-back goals by the Cardinals put the Muskies’ hopes of winning their initial post-Christmas game in jeopardy.
But Witherspoon restored calm by finishing a set-up from Max Williams and Nick Hahkala with about seven minutes left to make it 5-3.
The Cardinals pulled to within one again with 5:47 to go.
But goalie Matt Booth (19 saves) and the rest of the Muskies held on from there.
Williams sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the dying seconds.
Cole Allan, Matt Cheetham (power play), Chase McGuire, and Sully Shortreed also scored for the Muskies, who outshot Chippewa Falls 33-23.
Next up for the Muskies is a game today at 5 p.m. against another group of Cardinals.
This time, it will be the Alexandria (Mn.) Cardinals, who fell 5-1 to the host Thief River Falls Prowlers in their opener yesterday.
Fort High then will wrap up its stay against the Fargo North Spartans (N.D.) tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Muskie girls’ hockey team begins play today as the No. 6 seed in the “Red” group of the Girls’ Varsity division at the annual Schwan Cup tournament in Blaine, Mn.
They’ll face the third-seeded Luverne (Mn.) Cardinals at 5 p.m.
A win will put Fort High into a 7:30 p.m. contest tomorrow against the winner of today’s final game between the second-ranked Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers, whom the Muskies have split two games with earlier this season, or seventh-ranked Cap City.
Should the Muskies lose, they’ll face the loser of that game tomorrow at 5 p.m.
Fort High then will have one more game Thursday against an opponent that will be determined based on the results of their first two games.