When the hometown head coach is feeling remorseful for the job done by the men in stripes, it’s a good sign the officials didn’t have their finest hour.
The Muskie girls’ hockey team ran into what it and its opponent thought was some shoddy refereeing in a 4-3 loss Saturday to the Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers in the second of a two-game pre-season series there.
Fort High took the opener 3-2 on Friday but then were issued 10 penalties—plus a misconduct—on Saturday compared to just four for the Hilltoppers, who are in their first season as a full-fledged member of the Minnesota State High School Hockey League.
The mostly freshman roster of Duluth Marshall gladly accepted the gift, rallying from a 3-1 second-period deficit and scoring the tying and winning goals on power play goals 1:09 apart.
“Their coach [Sean Storie] came up to me afterwards and apologized,” noted Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton.
“When we were up 3-1, we said if we get the next one, we’re good,” he added.
“But we didn’t and then the refs got involved.”
Emma Noga and Annalise Hayes (short-handed) sandwiched goals around a marker from the Hilltoppers to lead 2-1 after the first.
Janelle Kaemingh added to the Muskies’ lead in the second before Duluth Marshall replied two minutes later.
The Hilltoppers then took the lead in the latter half of the third, which saw Fort High get whistled for five of its penalties.
Sydney Beck made 17 saves in a losing cause.
“We played the same game we did Friday, except we won that one,” said Hamilton.
“We were trying to get everyone in,” he added.
“But when you’ve got lots of penalties, not everyone plays on the penalty kill, so some of the kids miss a lot of shifts.”
Friday’s game saw the teams go scoreless through the opening frame before Hayes and Rachel Jean (power play) tallied 49 seconds apart in the second.
The Hilltoppers made it 2-1 just 35 seconds later, but Lauren Hamilton made the most of her return from a nearly three-week layoff due to injury by netting the deciding goal late in the period.
Duluth Marshall countered with a power-play marker in the third but couldn’t net the equalizer despite outshooting the Muskies 25-12.
Beck was terrific with 23 saves to earn the win.
“They were two evenly-matched teams,” noted Todd Hamilton.
“Duluth Marshall was very skilled . . . their defence wants to turn things around quick to escape their own zone and they break out very well with a lot of speed,” he said.
“It reminds me a lot of how we break out of our own end.”
The Muskies will get one more pre-season test this Saturday when they host the Woodbury (Mn.) Royals at 1 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
“They’re similar to us,” Hamilton said of the Royals.
“They lost some seniors from last year and their core group is Grade 10s and 11s,” he noted.
“I guess they have some pretty quick forwards, which is typical for a U.S. high school team, and they bring a lot of forechecking pressure,” Hamilton added.