The Muskie girls’ hockey team is locked and loaded in anticipation of its best-of-three NorWOSSA final versus the Dryden Eagles that begins tonight at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The first-place Muskies head into the series after showing no mercy to the fourth-place Kenora Broncos in sweeping their best-of-three semi-final last week, outscoring them by a combined 32-0 over the two games.
Third-place Dryden, meanwhile, needed all three games to dispatch the second-place St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in their semi-final showdown.
They advanced to face the Muskies after a 4-1 win Sunday night in the third-and-deciding game.
The Muskies took the regular-season series 3-0-1 over the Eagles but head coach Todd Hamilton knows they will be an extremely large obstacle in their attempt to advance to OFSAA, which is slated for March 21-23 in Timmins.
“Dryden is a fast-skating, experienced team, well-coached, and have solid goaltending,” he warned.
“I think they have one of the best ‘D’ in the league, as well.
“They are a lot like our team [so] it will be a great series, and we need to be ready to play,” Hamilton stressed.
Game 2 goes Friday in Dryden, with Game 3 (if necessary) back here next Monday. Game times were not available as of press time.
What will be some of the biggest keys in order for the black-and-gold to advance to OFSAA?
“We need to take it one game at a time and not be too worried about the score,” Hamilton remarked.
“Just play our best hockey, have fun, and play with enthusiasm.
“Like I said at the beginning of the season, any team in NorWOSSA can win the league title,” he said.
“The past few years, I’ve learned [that] getting out of NorWOSSA is the most difficult part of season,” Hamilton added, noting both “St. Thomas and Dryden, the past few seasons, would have advanced deep into OFSAA.”
The Muskies opened their semi-final series against Kenora last Tuesday night with a 14-0 drubbing of the Broncos at the Ice For Kids Arena (it also was “Senior Night” for the graduating Muskie players).
Siobhan Mackintosh lit the lamp four times and added two assists while captain Annalise (CC) Hayes netted a hat trick, along with a helper, to pace the Muskie onslaught.
Jenna Clendenning notched a pair of goals and set up another while Hanna Ledrew also chipped in with two markers.
“We felt pretty good,” Hayes said afterwards. “We knew we had to come out strong.
“They’re a good team,” she added of the Broncos. “They put a lot of dedication and effort in, and it’s always fun playing them.”
Taylor Croswell opened the scoring just 2:02 into the game.
Then before anyone could blink, Clendenning connected five seconds later to give the Muskies the early 2-0 lead.
Ledrew made it 3-0 at 8:46 after jamming her first of the night past Broncos’ goalie Carlee Holmstrom on a wraparound attempt.
Jessica Steele, Mackintosh, and Ledrew later scored within a two-minute span to make it a six-goal cushion after 20 minutes.
Hayes spent the first 10 minutes of the game in the “sin bin,” serving the remainder of a mouthguard violation misconduct she had received near the end of Fort High’s 18-1 drubbing of the host Sioux Lookout Warriors back on Feb. 13.
But that did little to disrupt the flow of the black-and-gold’s leader, as she bulged the twine just 26 seconds into the middle frame to make it 7-0
Mackintosh and Hayes then traded a pair of goals before Clendenning tallied again to make it 12-0 after two periods.
Mackintosh notched her fourth goal of the night at 6:30 of the third before Khali Degagne capped the scoring with just over five minutes to go.
Carly McKinnon earned the shutout in goal while Holmstrom was tagged with the loss.
“I thought Mackintosh played very good,” Hamilton said after the game.
“She had a good game, scored a few goals, and moved the puck pretty well,” he lauded.
“All in all, it was a good team effort. I know that Kenora came here short-handed a little bit,” Hamilton added, referring to the fact the Broncos only had an 11-person lineup for Game 1.
But it was a similar story Friday afternoon in Kenora as Hayes again netted a hat trick, while Kelsey Langtry notched a pair of goals and added four helpers, to pace Fort High to an 18-0 rout over the Broncos to sweep the series.
Mackintosh, Clendenning, Ledrew, and Avery Cates also each scored twice in the series-clinching win.
Clendenning, Langtry (two), Cates, Ledrew, Mackintosh, and Hayes all tallied in the first period as Fort High jumped out to a 7-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Hayes (two), Reece McQuaker, Mackintosh, Emily Kaun, Ledrew, and Jillian Calder then bulged the twine in the second to make it 14-0.
Croswell, Jessica Steele, Clendenning, and Cates capped the scoring with third-period goals.
McKinnon also earned the shutout in that one.
“The entire team played very well,” Hamilton enthused about the series.