Muskie girls cough up lead

Lucas Punkari

It only took a couple of minutes, but the after-shock of what had transpired in the late stags of the second period between the Muskie girls’ hockey team and Kenora Broncos on Friday night at the Ice For Kids Arena was visible for all to see.
Trailing 3-1 as the clock ticked down, the Broncos knotted the score at 3-3 before the end of the frame, which gave their bench a visible energy boost as the Muskie one looked on in shock.
That switch in attitude carried over to the start of the third period, as the Broncos lit the lamp twice more en route to the 5-3 comeback victory.
“It’s happened to us so many times this year where we’ve given up leads, and the girls get into their head that once it’s tied the game’s over,” Muskie assistant coach Michelle Veldhuisen said afterwards.
The victory also was a big one in the NorWOSSA standings for the Broncos as they locked up first place in the regular season.
“I thought the girls battled back very well after getting down 3-1,” Kenora head coach David Craven reasoned.
“They stayed the course, they didn’t panic, and they were able to maintain their level of forecheck by getting the puck in deep and creating opportunities, which is exactly what happened late,” he noted.
After both teams traded scoring chances in the first period, Fort High opened the scoring just over a minute into the second when Jillian Langtry sprinted in on a breakaway before beating Broncos’ goalie Hunter Becks top shelf.
Shae-Lynn Smith extended the Muskie lead during a short-handed situation at the game’s halfway mark when her point shot completely fooled Becks.
Kenora got on the board a couple of minutes later as Erica Johnson slid a shot by Muskie netminder Melissa Payne.
However, the Muskies regained their two-goal lead soon after when a visibly-excited Ericka Tymkin scored from the slot.
But from that point on, things quickly began to go in favour of the visitors.
They cut the lead back down to one with just under two minutes to go when Hannah Rose scored on a breakaway, then tied things up just 35 seconds before the second intermission when a poke check from Payne ended up right back onto the stick of Jess Ricklefs, who took a backhanded shot on goal that found the back of the net.
The snowball effect continued just 35 seconds into the third as Ainsley Lindquist netted a rebound to give the Broncos the lead, with Johnson then lighting the lamp for the second time in a matter of minutes to put her team up by two.
“The momentum just switched,” Johnson noted.
“We stayed positive on the bench whenever it got negative, and the goal that put us within one really helped boost our energy.”
While the Muskies did have a few more offensive chances, and even a five-on-three power play to help try and make things close late, they were unable to regain the momentum that was lost in that short time frame and came away empty-handed for the second-straight game.
“I think the girls might be putting too much pressure on themselves in trying to come back,” Veldhuisen reasoned.
“They end up getting off of the game plan and try to do end-to-end rushes, which doesn’t end up working well,” she added.
“That’s something we’ll need to work on in practice because in the final minutes we tried to do much.”
The Muskie girls, who likely will finish third in the NorWOSSA regular-season standings, now will prepare for their regular-season finale on Tuesday night when they take on Dryden in what is shaping up to be a playoff preview.
“We beat them in overtime the last time we played, which was huge for us,” Veldhuisen remarked.
“They’re a good rival for us and our games all year long have been pretty even.
“Plus, it’ll give us a good idea of what we’ll be facing in the playoffs,” she added.

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