Muskie girls enjoying pre-season success

Staff

The Muskie girls’ hockey team has had a solid pre-season so far.
Fresh off capturing the Sturgeon Heights tournament in Winnipeg, the squad went 3-1 at the annual Scott Clendenning Memorial Showcase over the weekend at the Ice For Kids Arena.
After opening play Friday night with a 2-0 loss to the Thunder Bay Queens, the black-and-gold blanked the Kenora Broncos 8-0 on Saturday afternoon before downing the Thunder Bay Fury 5-1 that night.
Fort High then concluded play Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over the Dryden Eagles.
“We started out a bit slow,” head coach Todd Hamilton conceded in an e-mailed response to the Times, noting the Queens play a very disciplined position game and can really skate.
“I felt we played much better in second half of the game and created some great scoring opportunities,” he added.
“[But] their goalie played very well and we couldn’t get a puck by her.
“[It] seemed to me like we started catching our stride the remaining three games and the girls played better each game,” Hamilton added.
The “Showcase” somewhat mirrored the Muskies’ performance the previous weekend in Winnipeg.
“It was similar in that we did not play our best hockey early in the tourney, then we got better and better through the weekend, playing our best game on Sunday,” Hamilton said.
The Muskies will close out their pre-season schedule with a pair of exhibition games this Saturday at the Paul Bunyan Scrimmage Fest in Bemidji, Mn. against Northern Lakes and Bemidji High School.
“We played Bemidji HS last season, finished 1-1 in OT, so we expect another great game with [them],” Hamilton noted.
“They play a fast-skating game, typical U.S. high school, high energy and pressure, so we have to be ready to match their speed and energy,” he warned.
“I don’t know anything about Northern Lakes,” Hamilton admitted.
“They were 19-6 last season and their coach has extensive playing experience at the U.S. college level, so I am guessing they will be a fast-skating, puck-moving team and we will need to be ready when the puck drops.
“[It] should be a great day of hockey.”
The Muskies then will open the NorWOSSA regular season against the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the ’52 Canadians Arena here.
“We had the opportunity to see St. Thomas play in Winnipeg,” said Hamilton.
“Once again this year, [head coach] Mark Richards has the Saints playing a very disciplined game in their own end and they have some speedy forwards to provide scoring and forecheck pressure.
“On ‘D’ they are experienced, as well.
“We have to be ready to match St. Thomas’ speed and intensity, and we need scoring from all three of our lines to be successful,” Hamilton stressed.
“It will boil down to hard work and commitment to playing as a team.
“I expect the NorWOSSA league to be especially competitive this season,” he warned.
“I think any team could win the league this year, [which] bodes well for our league and our student athletes in [Northwestern] Ontario.”
Hamilton also doesn’t want the team to rest on any pre-season laurels.
“I don’t think there is a coach out there that hasn’t used the saying ‘be happy but not satisfied,'” he noted.
“That is how we are feeling about our team,” Hamilton remarked. “They have played some very solid hockey early in the season but we can always find room for improvement.
“If we continue our current work ethic in practice and dryland, keep our feet moving in games, and play together, we will have a great year.”
Hamilton added the team is very fortunate to have two solid goalies in Kamryn Sandelovich and Sydney Beck this season.
“Our goal is to have both prepared and ready to play alternating games,” he noted.
He added Beck will play both games in Bemidji as Sandelovich is among the Muskie runners representing Fort High at the OFSAA cross-country championships this Saturday in Petawawa.