It will be all systems go for the Muskie boys’ hockey team as they open the NorWOSSA playoffs tonight.
The black-and-gold head into the post-season as the top seed after finishing the regular season with a 12-3 record.
The Muskies were slated to host the fifth-place Dryden Eagles in the regular-season finale last Thursday night at “The Duke” (Couchiching Arena) but the Eagles opted not to make the trip due to poor road conditions.
As such, the Muskies were awarded a 1-0 forfeit win and locked up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Fort High will host the fourth-place St. Thomas Aquinas Saints of Kenora (8-6-0-1) in the opener of their best-of-three semi-final series tonight at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Game 2 then go is set for Friday afternoon in Kenora, with Game 3 (if necessary) back here on Sunday (a time and venue is still to be determined).
“I think the guys have a done a good job down the stretch getting ready for the playoffs, for the most part, and I think we are feeling good about our game and the way we are playing heading into the playoffs,” Muskie head coach Jordan Sinclair said.
“Practice will be status quo,” he noted. “A lot of the same things we have been working on, special teams and making a few small adjustment to prepare for the way T.A. likes to play, and making sure everyone is prepared and ready to go. ”
The Muskies won the regular-season series against the Saints by a 2-1 margin. Each game was decided by a goal so a continued tight battle is expected in the playoffs.
“We know it is going to be a good challenge for us,” Sinclair said of the Saints. “They compete hard and have a some skilled players up front you need to be aware of.
“For us, it’s always about playing our game and making the other team worry about how they are going to stop us,” he remarked.
“And we want to be the team setting the tempo, not waiting around to feel the game out.
“We do know that they like to try and stretch the ice from their ‘D’-zone,” Sinclair added.
“So we have to make sure we get on top of the ‘D’ in a hurry, make sure we are skating, and that our supporting forward is doing a good job staying high and cutting off the middle, as well as the ‘D’ holding up the lines and taking away the stretch play.”
Sinclair said expectations in the playoffs always are simple–and that is just to win, no matter what.
“That’s what the playoffs are about,” he reasoned.
“We always want the play of our game to set the tone and dictate how the game is going to be played,” Sinclair reiterated.
“So if we’re disciplined and we are skating, checking with our feet, and being responsible in our end with the puck and limiting their chances, I think we give our selves a good chance of success and will be a tough out.”
Game 2 is set for Friday afternoon in Kenora.