Muskies buoyed by strong start

Lucas Punkari

If you ask head coaches what they want out of their team at the start of a hockey game, they’ll probably answer a dominating shift from their starting line up front to get things rolling for the rest of the squad.
Muskie boys’ head coach Shawn Jourdain got exactly that from his opening line of Ryan Windigo, Tarran Romyn, and Braedon Keast on Friday night at the Ice For Kids Arena, which scored on the first shift of the game to set the stage for an eventual 5-1 triumph.
“We like to get things going for our team by playing the body right away and setting the tempo to help get the other guys rolling,” Keast noted.
“On that first goal, we won the draw and passed the puck around to our defence, who then passed it up to me and I made a soft dump down the ice.
“Tarran went and chased the puck down and he saw Windigo who was in the slot, and he made a nice backhand there to get the goal,” Keast added.
That physical top line has been together for a while now, having made their initial impact two weekends ago at the annual Piper Classic tournament in Winnipeg.
“We want to have three big guys out there that can start the game out by taking the puck in deep, making some big hits, and also to help get the rest of the guys into the game,” Jourdain explained.
“In Winnipeg, we saw that the guys worked really well together, and tonight [Friday] they cashed in on a really good scoring chance and that was the kind of start that we needed.”
After the top line did its job, Muskie power plays capitalized on their opportunities later in the period as Robbie Rea and Keast both beat Kenora goalie Jordan Spencer from the point to give the black-and-gold a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
“The power play is something that we have been working here in the last couple of days,” Keast said.
“The coaches have been telling us to just get pucks on net, and that was exactly what I was trying to do on my goal, so it felt nice when it went in,” he smiled.
Windigo and Hunter Leishman extended the Muskies’ lead in the second period, but that same dominance Fort High showed in the opening frame was nearly non-existent over the final 40 minutes.
“We had a great week of practice so I was really looking forward to tonight’s game,” said Jourdain.
“But after the first period, we kind of fell off,” he sighed. “I wouldn’t say that we took a step back, but we just didn’t play like we had practised.
“We weren’t as quick and we didn’t move the puck like we did earlier in the game,” Jourdain recalled.
“And I think had we had done that, we would have won by a much larger score than we did.”
“It’s usually the other way around for us, where we get off to a slow start and then pick things up,” Keast noted.
“To get off to a great start in the first period was good, but we just started to slow down out there and lost our foot speed as a result,” he admitted.
Anthony Cook spoiled Scott Parsons’ shutout bid with a power-play marker late in the second period.
Then despite a couple of nice scoring chances in the third, the Broncos were unable to erase the four-goal deficit.
With Friday’s win, the black-and-gold improved their NorWOSSA-best record to 9-0-0-1 as they head into the exam break.
Their next league contest is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 31 against the visiting St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora).
The black-and-gold faced
Baudette in exhibition action here last night (the outcome wasn’t known as of press time), then will hit the road for exhibition games against Kittson and Red Lake Falls on Jan. 27-28.
“Those games are always exciting as it’s nice to play somebody new,” reasoned Muskie captain Nick Kaun.
“When you play a team like Kenora, for example, you know going in who you have to watch for and what not.
“But against a brand new team, you have change things on the fly and you have to know what you are doing out there,” he stressed.
“Plus, when you are competing against faster teams like the ones in Minnesota and in the tournaments that we go to, it helps you realize what you have to do against those top teams when you go to OFSAA,” Kaun added.