A pair of goals by Grayson Burnell and a shorthanded marker by Ashton Velhuisen were enough to propel the Muskie boys to their second NorWOSSA championship in as many years.
Coming home after a 4-0 loss on the road the Broncos came out hard and gave the Muskies almost all they could handle. The game was back and forth in the first period with neither team finding the back of the net in the first.
The first goal came at 14:58 of the second period with Trent Wilson in the box on a hooking penalty. Evan Kabel and Ashton Velhuisen broke out of the defensive zone on a shorthanded, two on one rush and Veldhuisen buried it.
The Muskies ran into some penalty trouble following the opening goal. The team took a bench penalty for too many men and then defender Austin Mosbeck took a four minute penalty for kneeing. Mosbeck then came back on the ice without his helmet strap fastened and was assessed another two minutes for illegal equipment. In total, the Muskies spent half of the second period with at least one player in the penalty box. They managed to kill the penalties without conceding a goal but with 36 seconds remaining in the period the Broncos broke out on a two on one with Jack Kobelka putting the first puck past Muskie goalie Karson Loughrey in almost five periods of play.
It was the Broncos again early in the second period. Loughrey made a save but couldn’t control the rebound. Broncos forward Everett Chevalier was able to capitalize, putting the home team up 2-1.
The Muskies tied the game a few minutes later when Burnell banged home a rebound after a shot from the point from Tarran Enge, with the second assist to Teagan Wrolstad.
The game-winning goal came with 8:24 remaining in the third as Burnell knocked in his second of the game after an Ashton Barnes shot, with Wrolstad adding another assist.
There was no tossing of gloves and sticks as the game ended on a strange call with an official blowing play dead just as the buzzer sounded. The Muskies came off the bench to greet Loughrey.
Muskies head coach Chris Sinclair says he was pleased with the team’s play under pressure.
“I thought we handled the situation well when we went down 2-1,” Sinclair said. “There was no real panic or getting down on each other. We stuck to our game plan and were able to finally capitalize on our chances.”
On killing off half a period’s worth of penalties, Sinclair said the PK performed well.
“As much as you don’t want to play short handed or killing penalties I thought the PK did a great job,” he said. “Especially in the second period, killing off 10 minutes short handed pretty much consecutively.”
Burnell says he wasn’t sure the game winner went in.
“I was trying not to bat it out of mid-air,” Burnell said. “I wasn’t sure if it went in but I saw the ref point at it and it felt pretty good.”
With the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations canceling last year’s championships, the Muskies will now turn their attention to preparing for a return to the all-Ontario championships which will be hosted by the city of St. Catharine’s from March 21-23.