Muskie girls burned by late Saints’ surge

Joey Payeur

Never mind duelling banjos; time for duelling hat tricks.
The Muskie girls’ hockey team carried the game early but the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) were on fire when it counted, wiping out a 3-1 third-period deficit en route to a 4-3 overtime victory in the bronze-medal game of the Pembina Tigers’ home tournament in Morden, Man.
Jillian Langtry, who earned a nod at forward on the tournament all-star team and was the weekend’s leading scorer with 11 goals and five assists for 16 points, scored her first of three goals in the game for the only goal of the opening period.
After Kayla Milne tied the score in the second, Langtry struck again later in the frame, then again early in the third, to put Fort High in a medal-based frame of mind—a little too early for Melissa White’s liking.
White launched the Saints’ comeback with a spinaround shot from just inside the Muskies’ blueline at 7:20 that caught goalie Dana Cridland by surprise.
“That goal really lifted them up and really took the wind out of us,” said Muskie head coach Mel Langtry.
Then at the 15-minute mark, White squared the game and had Fort High scrambling for answers—so much so that the Muskies lost their focus in the final minute just enough that they were penalized for having too many players on the ice.
“They hadn’t really been calling it all weekend—they were giving everyone about six feet grace between getting to the bench and the next person going on,” noted Langtry.
“But the puck happened to come over at that moment and I guess they had to call it,” he added.
Fort High managed to kill off the penalty through the end of
regulation and into overtime. But just as the penalty ended and the Muskie player raced back into the play, White worked herself free and put the game-winner past Cridland at 1:16 to seal the deal for the Saints.
The Muskies had opened the tourney with a 4-1 win over the Red Lake Rams, avenging a 3-2 loss to their NorWOSSA counterpart back on Nov. 13.
Jillian Langtry had her fingerprints all over the win, scoring twice and setting up Katie Sinclair for the other two Muskie markers.
Cridland made 17 saves to earn the victory.
The eventual tournament champion Tigers were waiting around the next corner, though—a team which repeatedly has frustrated Fort High over the past few seasons.
But it appeared it was the Muskies’ turn to get the last laugh. Langtry scored twice in the first period, including once short-handed, to give the black-and-gold a 2-0 lead—and unwittingly letting the Tigers out of their cage.
Pembina halved the lead before the period was over, then bombed away in the second, scoring four times before capping the blitzkrieg with a sixth unanswered goal in the third.
Melissa Payne had 22 saves in taking the loss.
Fort High then wrapped up the preliminary round with a 10-2 rout over the Portage Collegiate Institute Saints from Portage la Prairie, Man.—although there was good reason PCI had difficulty keeping the puck out of its net.
“We got an e-mail before the tournament from PCI asking us if we could lend them a goalie because their only goalie had been injured before the tournament,” noted Langtry.
Portage instead decided to go with one of their own defence corps and the result was predictable as Fort High made the Saints’ net bulge like a dam ready to burst through its own walls.
Jillian Langtry led the attack with six points, including four goals, while Ericka Tymkin netted two goals to go with a pair of assists.
Jessica Taggart, Danielle Jean, Shae-lynn Smith, and Sydney Jones added singles, with Taylor Dixon, Hailey Clendenning, Sarah Milling, and Sinclair each collecting two assists.
A semi-final date with another NorWOSSA foe, the Kenora Broncos, turned into a case of too little, too late for the Muskies as they were doubled 4-2.
Kenora built a 3-0 lead before Jean, on a set-up from Dixon with 9:46 to play, and Sinclair, on a feed from Jillian Langtry with three minutes to go, both beat Broncos’ goalie and tourney all-star Hunter Becks to make the game close at the wire.
But Kenora netted one more for good measure with 50 seconds to play.
Payne took the loss in goal after again making 22 saves in the process.
“Our defensive play and goaltending has to be more consistent,” stressed Langtry.
“We’ve got to realize we’ve got to keep up the speed because when you play teams that are faster, you have to play at a faster level.”
The Muskies faced the International Falls Broncos last night at the Ice For Kids Arena in the second game of an exhibition home-and-home series that saw Fort High lose the first meeting 7-6 on Dec. 7 at Bronco Arena (the outcome was unknown as of press time).
The squad then will host the Sioux Lookout Warriors this Friday (Feb. 4) at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena—the first of four games in five days for the black-and-gold.
They will hit the road to Ear Falls to take on Red Lake this Saturday (Feb. 5), then travel to Baudette to play the Lake of the Woods Bears on Feb. 7 and to Kenora to battle St. Thomas Aquinas on Feb. 8.