Muskie girls earn silver in Winnipeg

Dan Falloon

New defence?
No problem for the Fort High Muskies girls’ hockey team.
The Muskies, with four of six defenders new to the team, allowed just two girls in regulation play as they made the final of the Sturgeon Heights Huskies’ tournament in Winnipeg over the weekend.
The black-and-gold’s only loss came in the championship game against the Oak Park Raiders, who emerged with a 2-1 victory in a shootout.
Muskie Katie Sinclair scored Fort High’s only goal of the game, tallying late in the second to respond to Oak Park’s goal that came 46 seconds into the contest.
From there, the two teams battled through 10 minutes of overtime and a scoreless shootout before the Raiders finally solved Muskie goaltender Melissa Payne with their fifth shooter.
With seven goals and 11 points, Jillian Langtry was awarded the tournament MVP trophy, while Oak Park’s netminder edged out Payne for top goalie.
Head coach Mel Langtry was thrilled with his team’s play over the weekend, as they have now earned a medal in both tournaments this season after earning a bronze medal at their home tournament on Oct. 24.
“The girls played great, right from the goaltending to every forward and every [defender],” enthused Langtry.
“We had a good solid effort the whole weekend.”
Forwards Shelby Tymkin and Alyssa Penner didn’t make the trip, battling nagging injuries, though Nicole Horn made her debut on the blue line after missing the Muskies’ home tournament.
Horn was paired with three-year veteran Melanie Scott, the only returning Muskie who patrolled the blue line last year.
Langtry was encouraged by the play of that pairing, and lauded Scott for her play as the anchor of the back end.
“She’s a big part of it,” Langtry said of Scott.
“It helps a lot having her there just to calm the girls down.
“They [Scott and Horn] did well. They talked quite a bit and we tried to get them to communicate really well, all the defensive pairings,” he continued.
“Everybody’s been doing what they’ve been supposed to do.”
Langtry admitted he was pleasantly surprised to see the defence enjoying so much success so early on, but noted that all defenders are putting in the necessary work to be successful.
“I was thinking that our little downfall, if anything, would be our defence because we’re so new at it,” said Langtry.
“But boy, they’ve been just picking it up.
“The girls are starting to put in that second effort that they have to to play at this level and they’re really coming together,” he added.
Langtry noted that the back end had a little bit of trouble adjusting to a slightly-different style of play in Manitoba early on in the tournament.
That period didn’t end up costing the Muskies at all, as they found their feet midway through their first game en route to a 6-0 win over John Taylor, admittedly one of the tournament’s less-skilled challenges.
“The Winnipeg teams play quite aggressive, so the younger ones were having a little struggle with that off the start, but then they had to start holding their stick a little tighter and battling for the puck and trying to win them,” explained Langtry.
“By the end, they were doing really good.”
Against the Pipers, Shae-lynn Smith opened the scoring in support of goaltender Payne.
Jessica Taggart, Taylor Dixon, Ericka Tymkin, Hailey Clendenning and Jillian Langtry all added goals later on.
The Muskies then matched up with the host Huskies, earning a 4-1 win.
Tymkin led the way with a pair, while Langtry and Danielle Jean also tallied in goalie Dana Cridland’s only action of the weekend.
Cridland was slated to play the semifinal against Jeanne Sauve, but pulled out because of a nagging injury.
The Muskies wrapped up the round-robin with a barn-burner against Balmoral Hall.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, but Langtry broke out of the Fort High zone in the dying seconds, bursting past the defence and deking out the Blazer goaltender with just 1.7 seconds to go in the game.
Coach Langtry admitted being surprised that the Blazers didn’t pull their goalie in favour of the extra attacker, as they needed a win more than the Muskies entering the game.
A tie would likely have advanced the Muskies to championship round, but would have mired the Blazer in 1-1-1 limbo.
The win vaulted the Muskies into first place overall after the group stage, placing them in the semifinal against Jeanne Sauve.
Langtry lauded the Olympiens for putting a quality team on the ice, though they couldn’t handle Jillian Langtry, who scored four times in the win.
Sinclair and Clendenning pitched in the other goals in the 6-0 romp to advance to face the Raiders.
Over the weekend, Taggart, Dixon, Jean and Kimmy Holt recorded multiple assists, while Nicole Horn, Sinclair and Smith tallied one each.
Coach Langtry acknowledged that being so close to gold, but not taking it was a bit of a letdown, but playing in a game where the margin of defeat was so slim, none of the Muskies can shoulder any blame for the loss.
“It’s a little disappointing coming home with second place, but I don’t even hardly consider that a loss,” he stressed.
“No one made a mistake or anything like that, or coughed it up.
“Nobody’s blaming anybody. It was just a team loss,” he concluded.
Another area of development for Fort High was team discipline.
Taking penalties hurt the black-and-gold’s chances of gold at its home tournament, but in Winnipeg, the Muskies were able to keep their cool.
It was especially important with the short bench of seven forwards.
“We had one game that we took a few and it’s very tough when you’re so shorthanded, to kill penalties,” reasoned Langtry.
“Our discipline is coming along. It’s better than it was at our home tournament.
“The girls are learning that they have to control their temper and they’re doing a pretty good job of it so far,” he added.
And though Fort High was missing players this weekend, Langtry said that he has a pool of call-ups to tap into should the team sustain any injuries in the NorWOSSA season.
However, Penner is expected to be back for the Muskies’ home opener on Nov. 13 against the Red Lake Rams, while Langtry expects to find out Shelby Tymkin’s status later in the week.