Muskies gunning to nail down playoff berth

Tonight’s regular-season finale between the Muskie boys’ hockey team and the Dryden Eagles at the ’52 Canadians Arena may be a NorWOSSA playoff preview.
First and foremost, the Muskies (3-10-2) need a win or a tie tonight to clinch the fourth-and-final playoff spot over the Sioux Lookout Warriors, who trail the black-and-gold by just one point.
The Muskies also would clinch the final playoff berth if the Warriors tie or lose their last game tonight in Kenora.
The only way Sioux Lookout can clinch is if they win and the Muskies lose.
If both teams finish tied for fourth after tonight, the Muskies hold the tie-breaking advantage, not Sioux Lookout as was wrongly reported in yesterday’s Daily Bulletin.
Since the two teams split their head-to-head series (2-2), the second tie-breaker is goals for in the head-to-head matchups, which the Muskies hold 18-16.
The third tie-breaker was goals for over the season, which Sioux Lookout holds.
If the Muskies do clinch the final playoff spot tonight, they’ll travel to Dryden on Friday for game one of their best-of-three semi-final. Kenora hosts Red Lake in the other series.
Muskie assistant coach Ken Christiansen said the out-of-town scoreboard won’t mean a thing tonight as long as they beat or tie the front-running Eagles.
“We’re a little more comfortable. We’d still like to beat Dryden and have to something positive going into the playoffs,” he said. “Momentum and confidence going in never hurts.”
The black-and-gold is 0-2-1 against Dryden so far this season. Two of those losses were clear blowouts—10-0 and 7-1—at the Dryden Recreation Centre.
But the last game here was a tight 2-2 draw Jan. 29.
“We seemed to play them better at home and just get pounded on the road,” admitted Muskie forward Terry Kellar. “We want to get up on them and send them a message.”
Fort High has been getting strong play from Kellar and Jordan Shannon as their first line. Defenceman Kyle McTavish also has provided a spark offensively.
But Christiansen is undecided who he’ll start in goal tonight. Mathew Gamsby, who stopped 40 shots in that 2-2 tie against the Eagles, has been the regular starter, but backup John Zub played well in their last win over Red Lake on Saturday afternoon.
Dryden head coach Darryl Mousseau said his team, which held top spot in NorWOSSA from the beginning to end of the season, also is treating tonight’s game with a playoff atmosphere.
“We have to view it as a playoff game. We can’t go into it and not think that way. We don’t want to give them any edge,” he said.
In related news, the Muskie girls’ hockey team (4-7) will end a two-week hiatus when they wrap up their regular season by hosting the Eagles tonight at the Ice for Kids Arena in a definite playoff preview.
The black-and-gold already have clinched third place, and will open the first-ever NorWOSSA girls’ hockey playoffs with a trip to Dryden for game one of their best-of-three semi-final Friday.
First-place Kenora will meet fourth-place Red Lake in the other semi-final.