Muskie girls shine on ice in Winnipeg

Now into their sixth season on the ice, the Muskie girls’ hockey team continues to push into new territory—literally and figuratively.
The team travelled to Winnipeg last weekend to play in the fourth-annual Silver Oak Invitational Tournament, which was the first time they’ve been invited to participate.
They also stepped their game up to new heights, dropping three of four matches but showing off a new cohesiveness that bodes well for a strong season.
The Muskies opened play against the host Oak Park Raiders on Friday night, falling behind early but then rallying to tie the game late in the first period.
Strong play in the defensive zone by Cortney Caldwell freed up defenceman Nina Bird to head man the puck to a fast-breaking Lauren Krukoski, who split the Oak Park ‘D’ and fired a hard wrist shot just over the blocker of the Raiders goalie to knot the game at 1-1.
Despite at times outplaying and outshooting Oak Park (Deanna Saunders, Sarah O’Sullivan, Miranda Kellar, and Bird all had great scoring chances), the Muskies surrendered a late second-period goal, and then a pair in the last 1:30 of the third, to make the final score 4-1.
On Saturday afternoon, the Muskies faced a daunting task—matching up with a St. Mary’s Flames squad that had blown out a strong Kenora Broncos team 9-1 the night before.
In what has to rank as one of the greatest Muskie girls’ performances ever, the black-and-gold went skate to skate with the rugged Flames squad, trading shots, checks, and brilliant saves, and keeping the scoresheet blank through the first 39 minutes of play.
The Flames finally solved Muskie goalie (and game MVP) Katie Stearns with six minutes remaining in the game to grab a 1-0 lead.
But veteran centre Sarah O’Sullivan pounced on a lose puck at centre ice with 2:40 to go and buried a breakaway blast top shelf to tie the score at 1-1.
After both teams continued to trade scoring chances, the Saints took advantage of a casual Muskie breakout, hemming them in, firing a puck on goal, and tapping in the rebound with only five second to go for a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Unhappy with the loss, but buoyed by a strong effort, the Muskies laced up the skates for a Saturday night tilt against Kenora.
Playing the Broncos for the third time in a week, the Muskies quickly ran into penalty trouble, picking up six minors in the first period but managing to kill them all off to keep the game scoreless.
It was all Kenora for most of the second period as Ashley Goodridge, Jennifer Craven, and Amanda Wolfe scored to make it 3-0. But Carly Holt, with a rocket from the point off a Sarah O’Sullivan draw, drew the Muskies to within 3-1 at the second intermission.
The Broncos then sealed the win as Joelle Charlebois tallied with just over two minutes left to make the final 4-1.
You reap what you sow and after three-straight losses, which meant the girls had earned an 8 a.m. date on Sunday with the Silver Heights Huskies.
Backed by another strong goaltending performance from Stearns, the Muskies struck first on a coast-to-coast rush by Holt, a third-year rearguard.
The Huskies tied the game at 1-1 with 2:53 left in the first period, which is how the score remained until the 13:20 mark of the third period when Miranda Kellar (set up by Taylor Meyers and Sarah O’Sullivan) walked out from behind the net and rifled a high hard wrist shot just over the outstretched glove of Huskies goalie Leslie Richards.
Not to be outdone, the Huskies rallied right back to tie the game four minutes later, setting the stage for Sarah O’Sullivan’s second goal—and fourth point of the weekend—with just 47 second to go.
Tic-tac-toeing the puck up ice with Holt and Meyers, O’Sullivan got to the blueline and fired a shot on goal as she headed to the bench. The puck found the twine through Richards’ legs, ensuring the Muskies their first victory of the tournament.
Holt was named the Muskie player of the game.
On the injury front after last weekend’s tournament, Meyers is nursing a bruised foot after taking a slapshot to the skate, Bird is still bothered by sore ribs, and Caldwell is off skates with an injured ankle.
Next up for the Muskie girls will be the International Falls Broncos, who host the first of two games between the border rivals this Friday night (Nov. 11) at Bronco Arena.