Thinking of an early stocking-stuffer idea for the Muskie girls’ hockey team?
Well, a word of advice: stay away from anything with stripes. It might cause Tiger trauma among its recipients.
The Muskies had another strong weekend end on a sour note thanks to the Pembina Valley Tigers, who beat the black-and-gold 4-3 in the final of a tournament co-hosted by Altona and Gretna, Man. this past weekend.
“We beat a team 11-2 [the Mennonite Collegiate Institute Blues from Gretna] at this tournament that the Tigers only beat 3-1,” noted Muskie coach Mel Langtry.
“They just have our number this year,” he reasoned.
Fort High beat Pembina Valley in the preliminary round of the Muskies’ pre-season home tournament, but lost in the final to those same Tigers.
Pembina Valley then edged Fort High 2-1 in the preliminary round in Altona before taking the final to make it three wins in four meetings for the Tigers over the Muskies.
Jessie Baker started the gold-medal game off right for the Muskies, beating Pembina Valley goalie Merritt Bramwell with 11 minutes left in the first period.
Brandy Klagen tied the game one minute into the second, but Baker struck like lightning with goals at the four-minute mark and again 20 seconds later, both set up by Shae-Lynn Smith, to make it 3-1.
Klagen killed the momentum quickly by scoring again one minute later before Kristy Caldwell tied it at 8:16 to set up a dramatic third period.
In the final frame, the fatigue of playing their third game of the day finally took its toll on the weary Fort High crew.
Nicole Lee beat Melissa Payne for the championship winner 2:20 into the third.
The Muskies had a golden opportunity to tie the game thanks to a five-minute power play after Alyssa Penner was drilled into the boards on a hit she never saw coming—suffering a wrist injury on the play that will keep her sidelined indefinitely.
“It was a cheap shot,” said Langtry. “The player came in and nailed her into the boards.
“There’s not supposed to be hitting in girls’ hockey,” he noted.
But Fort High hurt its own cause by taking a minor penalty of its own soon after—and never recovered even when they returned to the man advantage.
“We had to rotate our centres already as it was and when Alyssa went down, we were basically down to two lines,” Langtry noted.
The Muskies pulled Payne late, but like in the earlier meeting during the tourney, the black-and-gold couldn’t get any shots through at Bramwell due to a Tigers’ defensive effort that saw the big-bodied squad keep getting in the way.
The first game between the two squads had a strong defensive flavour, with the Muskies outshooting the Tigers 22-14.
Courtney Easton’s short-handed breakaway after forcing a turnover at the Pembina Valley blueline with eight minutes left in the first gave Fort High the early advantage.
But Mandy Marchant squared the contest with 2:51 left in the second and Lee, in a preview of her later heroics, netted the game-winner with nine minutes to go in the third.
“They chipped it past our defence, got a shot, and the trailer picked up the rebound,” Langtry recalled.
“We try and work on picking up that trailer all the time in practice, but we didn’t do it that time,” he stressed.
The Muskies found their rhythm with a 5-2 win over the Morden Thunder.
Taylor Dixon put the black-and-gold on the board with five minutes left in the first, then Baker made it 2-0 with only 30 seconds left in the period.
Carlee Bosma increased the lead to three at 3:20 of the second before Baker bulged the twine 1:40 later for a 4-0 lead.
Courtney Bethune tacked on another tally with eight minutes left in the second before Stacy Woods’ power-play goal ended Dana Cridland’s shutout bid.
Natalie Vanderberger rounded out the scoring for the Thunder with seven minutes left in the third as Fort High outshot Morden 31-10.
Cridland made eight saves for the win while Kristin Friesen had 26 stops in a losing cause for the Thunder.
The Mennonite Collegiate Institute had home-ice advantage in the Muskies’ third preliminary-round game. But fan support was irrelevant as Fort High steamrolled the Blues, with Danielle Jean roasting MCI goalie Raven McDonald for a hat trick.
Penner and Jessica Taggart each had two goals and an assist in the rout while Smith also scored twice and Jillian Langtry had a goal and three assists.
Baker added a single, with Cridland stopping 11 shots for the win compared to 29 saves by McDonald.
The win put Fort High in second place in Pool ‘B’ and created a semi-final showdown against Winnipeg’s Sturgeon Heights Huskies, who had topped Pool ‘A.’
But some first-period fireworks buried Sturgeon Heights early as the Muskies scored all of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of the game en route to a 4-2 win.
Bosma and Jean scored 44 seconds apart by the 5:08 mark and Erika Anderson and Bosma, with her second, deliver another double shot 1:48 apart later in the frame.
Power-play goals by Tori Spencer and Kelly McGibney 1:49 apart late in the second put the Huskies back in contention.
But Payne slammed the door in the third, finishing with 25 saves while Marisa Lajeunesse was saddled with the loss after making 32 stops.
The Muskies are back in action this weekend at a tournament in Dryden.
They will take on the Sioux Lookout Warriors on Friday at 12:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. clash with the host Eagles.
They’ll wrap up the preliminary round Saturday against the Kenora Broncos.
Fort High’s next home game is not until Dec. 8 when they welcome their cross-border rivals, the International Falls Broncos, to the Ice For Kids Arena for an exhibition tilt.
It also will be the Muskies’ annual “Teddy Bear Toss” game, with fans encouraged to bring stuffed animals to the game and throw them onto the ice after the first Muskie goal.
These then will be donated to underprivileged youth at Christmas.
Spectators also are encouraged to bring along a box or two of cereal for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper food drive.