Muskie squads close the book on winter seasons

Jamie Mountain

They put the hard work in all year but unfortunately weren’t able to end their seasons on their own terms.
Each of the Muskie boys’ and girls’ hockey and girls’ curling teams are unable to attend their respective all-Ontarios competitions that were originally slated for later this month after news on Friday that OFSAA had cancelled the championships due to health measures that have been imposed due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
While the frustrations were expected by each team, ultimately they understood the decision and are looking forward to the future.
Here’s a look back at all three teams:
Muskie girls’ curling team
The Muskie girls’ rink were stars as they claimed both the NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA crowns to nab, what should have been, their third straight berth to OFSAA.
The squad is comprised of skip Ashley Payne, third Jillian Cousineau, second Daffni Chabot, lead Lauren Penney and fifth Anna Peters.
“The girls are disappointed about OFSAA being cancelled. For Ashley and Jill, this is their last year,” said Muskie coach Kim Beaudry.
“The girls had a great high school season in only losing one game, the first one that they played at NWOSSAA in Longlac.
“They did a great job in bouncing back from a disappointing U18 provincial [championship], seeing that we finished one event on Saturday and the next one on Sunday,” she recalled.
“We understand the reasons for the cancellation,” Beaudry stressed. “Our health is way more important than a curling game.”
Muskie boys’ hockey team
The Muskie boys hockey team had a superb year in NorWOSSA play, finishing the regular season in first place with an 11-1 record and earned home-ice advantage all throughout the playoffs.
Those friendly confines of the Memorial Sports Centre paid off handsomely as the black-and-gold compiled a 4-1 record throughout the post-season, sweeping the fourth-place Red Lake Rams in the best-of-three semifinals before gutting out a 2-1 series win over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in the best-of-three final.
That series was capped off by a 6-3 win over the Saints in Game 3 last Tuesday night at the ’52 Canadians Arena and gave the Muskies their first NorWOSSA title since 2017.
“They reacted as any kid would-devastated,” Muskie head coach Chris Sinclair said of his squad’s reaction to OFSAA being cancelled this year.
“Obviously it’s a unique circumstance with what is happening. When all sporting events were beginning to be cancelled or postponed, I started getting nervous as to what the decision was going to be about OFSAA. And when it was announced school was being closed for two weeks after the March Break, things didn’t look very good.
“We were hoping that they would reschedule the event,” he noted. “But, unfortunately, that did not happen with either the boys’ or girls’ hockey as well as the curling. It was difficult news for myself and the team to receive, but obviously the health and safety of the students is more important. I feel bad for the kids as they worked hard all season to get our team back to the OFSAA championships and now they don’t have the opportunity to do so.”
Sinclair was more than pleased with how his squad played throughout the year and what stood out to him the most was how his players handled themselves.
“We had a very good start to the year, and it could have been easy to be satisfied with how we were playing, but each day, every player wanted to get better,” he lauded.
“They were a determined group to get back to the OFSAA championship and it showed by our development and improvement throughout the year. We had a fairly older team, and there were a number of players on the team who were leaders, and when you have that on a team, you’re going to be tough to beat.”
Muskie girls’ hockey team
The Muskie girls, similarly to the boys, had an outstanding year and also were able to finish in first place in the NorWOSSA regular season with a 9-1 record.
That gave the team home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, were they also went 4-1 en route to their first NorWOSSA crown since 2018.
“The news that OFSAA was being cancelled was devastating to everyone that played a part on this team,” said Muskie head coach Nicole Clarke.
“With that being said, we completely understand the precautions that are being taken due to the circumstances going on in the world right now.”
After sweeping the fourth-place Sioux Lookout Warriors in the best-of-three semifinal, the Muskies battled the second-place Saints in the best of-three league final in a classic series that went the distance.
Fort High had to dig deep and needed extra time as they pulled out a 2-1 shootout win in the third-and-deciding game last Monday night at the Ice For Kids Arena to snare the gold.
“I think that we had an unbelievable season,” Clarke enthused.
“My hopes for next year is that the returning players see what we are capable of, we are NorWOSSA champions! They know what it takes to get here.
“We had to persevere many times and work extremely hard,” she added.
“Throughout it all, I knew how badly our girls wanted to win and in the final series, that really shined through. I’m beyond proud of everything that this team accomplished this year and we deserved the gold medal at the end.”