Muskie boys win big in Emo

It doesn’t matter where the Muskie boys’ hockey team competes these days, the results are remarkably similar.
The black-and-gold (15-0-1) skated to an easy 7-2 victory over the Red Lake Rams (6-8-1) on Friday night at the Emo-La Vallee Arena—extending their NorWOSSA unbeaten streak to 16 games.
“I was pretty happy with our performance tonight,” Muskie head coach Shane Bliss said after Friday’s game.
“I was a little concerned coming out here knowing that it’s a small rink and that would benefit Red Lake because that’s what they’re used to, but I thought our boys really came to play tonight,” he added.
Indeed, the Muskie bench boss had little to complain about as his charges built a 6-0 lead over the Rams through two periods.
The black-and-gold then extended their lead to 7-0 early in the third before a pair of unusual Red Lake goals broke Muskie goalie David Moen’s shutout bid.
“In the last couple of minutes, we made a couple of mistakes,” Bliss noted.
“It wasn’t from a lack of skating,” he stressed. “We were working hard and they got a couple of good bounces.”
The Muskies got key contributions from a pair of unsung players in their latest victory.
Rugged forward Riley Caul netted a pair of markers—his 12th and 13th of the campaign—while Matt Hebert continued his strong play of late in scoring his 18th goal.
Caul, whose game centres more around his ability to punish the opposition physically than it does his ability bulge the twine, said there’s no secret behind his recent success.
“I’ve just been working hard and the pucks have been finding the net a little bit better,” Caul said of his recent scoring prowess.
“I’m no Crosby or Ovechkin, but I just work hard and get the job done,” he added. “I get the puck on the net and hopefully it goes in.”
Meanwhile, Hebert has made the most of the opportunity to play on the top line with Muskie captain Ryan Witherspoon and Taylor Jorgenson while George Halverson has been out of the lineup due to injury.
“Playing with Taylor [Jorgenson] and Spooner [Witherspoon], I know all I have to do is get open and they’ll give the puck to me,” Hebert said.
The Muskie forward has found the back of the net with increasing regularity of late and has a good shot at reaching 20 goals with two regular-season games remaining on the schedule.
Despite not playing a regular shift earlier in the season, Hebert continued to work hard in practice and waited patiently for his opportunity.
“Blister [Bliss] just tells us that when our name gets called, be ready to play, so that’s what I’ve been doing,” Hebert said.
“He’s given me a chance the last couple of months to prove myself and I’ve been trying to do that.”
The Muskies wrap up the NorWOSSA regular-season with games in Kenora against the winless Broncos (0-13) this Friday (Feb. 16) and again next Tuesday (Feb. 20).
The black-and-gold then will begin their quest for a berth at the all-Ontarios on home ice against those same Broncos a week from Friday (Feb. 23).
Game time has yet to be announced.
< *c>Fast start
The Muskies wasted little time getting on the scoresheet against Red Lake last Friday in Emo.
Kevin Bobczynski fired the puck past Rams’ goalie Steve Bowman 1:06 into the game after Pat Bobczynski’s shot had been blocked by a Red Lake defender.
Then with Brendan Hourie in the box for high-sticking, Jorgenson fed the puck to Witherspoon behind Red Lake’s goal. The Muskie captain stuffed home a wraparound to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Fort High went up 3-0 just 35 seconds into the second period when Hebert completed a three-way passing play between Jorgenson, Witherspoon, and himself.
Any thoughts of a possible Ram comeback quickly were put to rest as Caul got the first of his two goals just over a minute after Hebert’s marker when he jammed home a loose puck.
Muskie assistant captain Mitch Green and rookie forward Matt DePiero drew assists on the goal.
The Muskie power play then struck again just past the midway point of the period.
With Keenan Goodwin in the box for cross-checking, Matt McLellan hit Blake Wepruk with a pass, who then beat a screened Bowman with a snap shot through the five-hole.
The Muskies’ fifth goal prompted Rams’ head coach Enzo Martone to pull Bowman in favour of back-up Kurtis Wilson.
But the goaltending change did little to stem the Muskie tide as Kevin Bobczynski scored his second of the night on a blast from just inside the blueline that beat Wilson high and to the glove side.
Joe Basaraba and Kyle Turgeon each drew assists.
Mike McCaig then sprang Green and Caul on a two-on-one break in the opening minutes of the final period.
Green waited until the last possible second before feathering a pass across to Caul, who made no mistake burying the puck for his second marker of the game to make it 7-0.
Red Lake got late goals from Devin O’Donnell and Johnathan Vandusen to spoil Moen’s shutout bid.