Muskie girls all set for OFSAA

Jamie Mountain

It’s becoming a regular theme for the Muskies to be the best there is in NorWOSSA girls’ hockey play.
That was evident last week in Fort High’s impressive two-game sweep of the Dryden Eagles in the league final.
Captain Annalise (CC) Hayes and Siobhan Mackintosh each notched a pair of goals to pace the black-and-gold to a 5-1 win in over the host Eagles in the series-clinching game Friday night.
Jenna Clendenning added a trio of helpers.
“Dryden is a fast-skating, experienced team, a lot like our team,” Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton noted.
“They pressured our defence with forechecking and they never stop skating.
“Their goalie played great in both games; she made some amazing saves,” he added.
“More importantly, the Dryden players took the time to congratulate our players which, for competitors, that is very difficult to do.
But Hamilton said he was most proud of his players for being gracious winners and respectful.
“I’ve never been a fan of throwing gloves in the air and piling on after a win,” he remarked.
“Our players understand the importance of being humble and respectful, [which is] way more important than wins, and makes me very proud of all of them.”
With the win, the Muskies claimed their fifth-straight NorWOSSA title and now advance to the all-Ontarios slated for March 21-23 in Timmins.
Hayes opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game but Cali Lappage evened it at 1-1 at 8:20.
Hayes then regained Fort High’s lead at the eight-minute mark of the second period.
Mackintosh then notched a pair of goals at 8:07 and 11:07 before Reece McQuaker capped the scoring with just under minute to go.
Kamryn Sandelovich earned the win while Hannah Zilkalns took the loss.
“We are fortunate to have all three lines and six defence, and our goalies, playing their best hockey this season when we needed it the most,” lauded Hamilton.
“The scores in the Dryden games are not indicative of how close the games were,” he stressed.
“Dryden pushed us until the final buzzer.”
Fort High had opened the final with a 4-1 triumph last Wednesday night at the Ice For Kids Arena, riding a three-goal outburst in the opening five minutes.
Jillian Calder opened the scoring just 1:45 into the first when she jammed a centering feed from Hayes past Zilkalns.
Clendenning made it 2-0 less than a minute later when she blasted a shot top-shelf.
Hayes then staked the Muskies to a three-goal cushion at 3:41 when she made a move to the front of the Dryden net and roofed a backhander over Zilkalns.
That forced Eagles’ head coach Tim Getson to call a time-out to calm his squad down, and the move seemed to work as the visitors did not surrender any other goals the rest of the period.
“It helped a lot [to get out to a three-goal lead] because the rest of the game was pretty close,” Hamilton said afterwards.
“Our goaltender held us in there,” he noted. “We had some defensive lapses and played a lot of hockey in our own end in the last period-and-a-half.
“But, yeah, we came out with some energy and scored some big goals.
“The thing I liked is they were going to the net; all of the goals were sort of a result of hard work going to the net,” Hamilton added.
“So I like to see that.”
Calder banged home her second of the night at 16:05 of the second to make it 4-0 through 40 minutes.
After Muskie defender Alex Gartzke was sent off for tripping about midway through the third period, Payton Boyko got the Eagles on the board by blasting a shot from just inside the blueline upstairs on Sandelovich.
But that was a close as the Eagles would get.
Sandelovich earned the win in what was her first playoff start this season while Zilkalns was tagged with the loss.
“We were fortunate to get the win,” admitted Hamilton. “Glad the game’s over.”
The Muskies now will celebrate their huge win for a little while before getting back to work preparing for OFSAA.
“I think we’ll continue working hard, playing smart, and having fun . . . it seems to be working for us,” Hamilton said.
What will be some of the biggest challenges at OFSAA?
“We play three 20-minute periods all season [while] OFSAA games are [just] 15 with one flood,” he noted.
“[They are] short games so we have to be ready when the puck drops, score early, and play a fast-paced game,” he stressed.