Muskie girls nab consolation title

Lucas Punkari

Heading into last weekend’s PCI Christmas Classic in Portage la Prairie, Man., Muskie girls’ hockey head coach Scott Clendenning was hoping his team would gain a bit of confidence during their slate of games.
When all was said and done, the black-and-gold certainly did that—and then some—as they went a perfect 4-0, including a 2-1 victory over the host Portage Saints, to capture the consolation title.
“It was a great weekend,” Clendenning enthused.
“As the tournament went on, the girls were gaining more and more confidence, which was the biggest thing I thought to how well we did,” he noted.
“And as each game went on, they got better and better, which was a great thing to see.”
Despite finishing the round-robin portion with a perfect 3-0 record, the Muskies missed out on a spot in the championship final to their NorWOSSA rivals from Kenora and Dryden, who advanced to the title game due to a better goal differential.
In the consolation final against host Portage, Shae-Lynn Smith and Shilo Beck were the goal scorers while Dana Cridland turned aside six shots.
The Muskies opened action with a 5-2 win over St. Norbert on Friday afternoon.
Ericka Tymkin led the charge with two goals and an assist while linemate Taylor Dixon chipped in with three helpers.
Fort High followed that up with a 7-3 win over Oak Park that night, in which Hailey Clendenning netted a hat trick with Beck assisting on all three goals.
“The game against Oak Park was probably our best showing of the entire tournament,” Scott Clendenning said.
“We came out hard right off of the first face-off and we didn’t stop the entire game,” he recalled.
“And everybody was contributing in that game, as well, which was nice.”
Fort High concluded the round-robin Saturday with a 4-2 victory over Sturgeon Heights, with Shelby Tymkin notching a pair of goals to lead the way.
In all three round-robin games and the consolation final, one of the things Clendenning was pleased to see was how the entire roster was playing key roles for the team.
“If you look at the stats, while there were a few players who had big games points-wise, every line was rolling on offence,” he noted.
“There were a couple of games where our goaltenders [Cridland and Calie Clendenning] were tested,” he added.
“But overall our defence was excellent, and they were the quarterbacks out there by moving the puck and jumping into the play.”
The Muskies’ strong showing in Portage came only a few days after a 2-0 loss to the International Falls Broncos in an exhibition game here last Tuesday night (Dec. 6), where the black-and-gold had a number of scoring chances but were unable to find the back of the net.
“We outshot them 32-29 and had some nice opportunities, but we just couldn’t get one by their goalie [Keanna Carlson] there,” Clendenning said.
“Overall though, I thought it was a really good and evenly-matched contest, and it always is when you have this border rivalry,” he reasoned.
After an exhibition game yesterday in Baudette (the outcome wasn’t available as of press time), the black-and-gold now will get ready for their last two NorWOSSA games before the Christmas break.
They’ll host the Red Lake Rams this Sunday (Dec. 18) at 1 p.m., then face St. Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“Again, the main thing for us is to continue working on puck movement and our overall confidence,” Clendenning stressed.
“If we can continue to do that, we will be in a great position for the new year,” he enthused.