Muskie girls take message to heart

Joey Payeur

If Mel Langtry was looking to get his team’s attention, he knows he achieved his goal.
After a lacklustre effort in a 5-4 home loss to the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in their previous game last Tuesday (Jan. 11), the Muskie girls’ hockey team faced the consequences of their actions in the form of a 45-minute session of non-stop skating the next day.
That was followed by a quick change of gear before heading for another 20-minute stretch of running around the indoor walking track at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
With the cardiovascular torture stint still burned into their memories, the Muskies responded with one of their best games of the season in knocking off the Dryden Eagles 3-2 on Friday night in Dryden in a game that went to a shootout.
The win snapped a five-game NorWOSSA losing streak for Fort High—and was the Muskies’ first win in five tries overall against the Eagles this season.
“As soon as I came in the dressing room after the game, the girls were saying to me, ‘I guess you’re going to make us practice like that all the time now,’” chuckled Langtry, referring to his no-puck punishment.
“I might not be as hard on them next practice,” he admitted.
With Dryden having beaten Fort High twice the previous weekend at the John Taylor Pipers Classic Tournament of Champions in Winnipeg, including a 2-1 triumph in the bronze-medal game, the Muskies were wondering what it was going to take to overcome the Eagles.
The answer was a solid work ethic, a 42-save effort by goalie Melissa Payne, and some nifty stickwork during the shootout.
“It was an emotional win for our girls,” said Langtry. “To go up there and win is big.
“It’s all been one-goal games with them this year,” he noted.
Jillian Langtry got the black-and-gold off on the right foot against the Eagles, scoring on a breakaway with a sweet deke move against Dryden goalie Michelle Carter at 12:22 of the first period after passes from Shae-lynn Smith and Danielle Jean.
The Muskie sniper was back for more at 17:01. Hailey Clendenning sent the puck over to Shelby Rea, who then hit Langtry on the fly coming in on her off-wing.
Langtry ripped a bullet past Carter on the blocker side for her 11th goal of the NorWOSSA campaign.
Playing without the blueline duo of Melanie Scott (illness) and Sarah Milling (other playing commitments), Mel Langtry moved centre Katie Sinclair to the blueline to fill in the gap and rotated Jillian Langtry and Shelby Tymkin at centre between the three forward lines.
The positional shuffling worked beautifully through two-and-a-half periods—until Kristin Bartlett dragged her squad back into contention.
Bartlett finally solved Payne at 12:44, then tied the game with her second goal at 16:42
“You could see the girls were starting to lose some confidence after Dryden came back to tie it up,” said Mel Langtry, whose team killed off two 5-on-3 shorthanded situations earlier in the period.
After a scoreless overtime, the night came down to a shootout, with Alexis Reed kicking it off for Dryden by whipping a shot past Payne.
But Taylor Dixon replied with a goal of her own to tie the shootout.
Dryden’s Morgan Church then was turned aside by Payne before Jillian Langtry made good on her opportunity to put Fort High on the brink of victory.
Logic dictated the Eagles would go with the hot hand in Bartlett to stay alive, but instead Alex Wesley got the nod—the wrong choice, as it turned out, with Payne making the stop to crush Dryden’s hopes.
The Muskies will head to Baudette tomorrow (Jan. 20) to face the Lake of the Woods Bears in an exhibition game before getting a week off for exams.
Fort High had beaten the Bears 5-3 earlier this season in Emo.
“Baudette’s very fast, and while they only go with two forward lines for the most part, they come at you hard and don’t give up,” Mel Langtry warned.
“They have got one big centre who’s pretty good and their goaltending is not so bad.”
The Muskies’ next home game is the annual match-up with their cross-border rivals, the International Falls Broncos, on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort High returns to NorWOSSA action Friday, Feb. 4 here against the Sioux Lookout Warriors.