Muskies keep up torrid scoring

Lucas Punkari

The early offensive struggles of the Muskie boys’ hockey team appears to be a thing of the past.
After scoring eight goals against the Red Lake Rams here Dec. 10, the black-and-gold continued their torrid scoring on home ice last Thursday night in a 7-1 drubbing of the Sioux Lookout Warriors.
“Overall, I think we are headed in the right direction with wins over Red Lake and Sioux Lookout here,” Muskie head coach Shawn Jourdain said.
“Our game plan is to forecheck and get the puck down low, and then we begin to start cycling the puck and create some chances off of that,” he noted.
“And we have been taking advantage of that over the last couple of games.”
Fort High jumped all over the Warriors early with a three-goal outburst in the first period, then basically hemmed their opposition in their own end for almost the rest of the game.
“That’s exactly what coach [Jourdain] has been telling us to do,” noted Grade 12 forward Chris Bobczynski.
“He’s wanted us to get on them early, dump the puck in, and get the 2-1-2 forecheck going because no one beats us down low.
“Once we get the puck down there, and we start cycling it, we are basically unstoppable,” he added.
Leading the Muskies on offence were forwards Ryan Windigo and Hunter Leishman, who both netted a pair of goals past Warriors’ netminder Kyle Spence.
“Overall, I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Leishman, a Grade 10 left-winger.
“We just hustled for the loose pucks and we won most of the battles out there, and that is exactly what we did when we played Red Lake here,” he added.
Also scoring for the Muskies were Nolan Void, Robbie Rea, and Bobczynski.
At the other end of the rink, goalies Scott Parsons and Tyson Pitkanen nearly combined for a shutout—only to have Jake Bruce bang home a rebound past Pitkanen late in the third period to spoil the bid.
Parsons got the start between the pipes, with Pitkanen, an affiliate player in Grade 9, entering the game around the halfway point of the second period.
“Tyson’s come in here for us and he’s filling in for [Grade 11 netminder] Ryan Ferguson as Fergy got some bad news that he’s going to have to sit out a year due to being an academic transfer,” Jourdain explained.
“He [Ferguson] played at [St.] Thomas Aquinas last year, and during the summer his family moved to Atikokan,” he noted.
“So it’s just a loophole that honestly isn’t right as he came to us, and that forced us to into the direction to bring in Tyson.
“But Tyson has been doing fine for us in the few weeks that he’s been on the team, as he is working hard in practice and he’s getting caught up quickly,” Jourdain added.
When asked which performances stood out in his mind in the win over Sioux Lookout, Jourdain was quick to point out that it was the entire roster that had excellent games as opposed to just one player.
“We want every line going, and that is what the guys did tonight,” he lauded. “And our defense played really well, also.
“We are getting lots of traffic in front of the net, and we are also getting a lot of shots as a result, which is something that we have been working on a lot with everyone in practice,” Jourdain continued.
“Some of the things we’ve been telling the kids is to get out a little bit further and not be right tight to the goalie, which gives us a chance to move the puck out to the high slot, which is where three of our goals came from.”
The Muskies continued their recent offensive outbursts on the road in Red Lake on Monday night, as they thumped the host Rams by a score of 12-1.
Bobczynski led the way for the black-and-gold with a four goal night, with Windigo, Rea and Braedon Keast all lighting the lamp twice.
Leishman, Nick Kaun and Tarran Romyn also scored in the victory.
The boys then concluded their pre-Christmas NorWOSSA slate last night in a contest against the Kenora Broncos [retails were unavailable at press time].
The black-and-gold won’t have much time to rest over the holidays, however, as they’ll be heading to Duluth for a tournament next week, with their first game taking place Tuesday (Dec. 27) at 4 p.m. versus Colquet.
“We’re really looking forward to that Duluth tournament,” Jourdain remarked.
“That’s where I think a lot of our younger guys will get their eyes opened up to the speed that we are talking about that they need to play at, and they are going to have to play at that level if they are going to compete against the teams there,” he stressed.
Prior to their next league game, which will be here on Friday, Jan. 13 against the Kenora Broncos, the Muskies will head to Winnipeg to participate in the Piper Classic, with their first game slated for Friday, Jan. 6 at 11:30 a.m. against the Kelvin Clippers.
“We haven’t been there in a few years as it’s run into our exam time,” noted Jourdain. “But this year it’s worked out, schedule-wise, and we are looking forward to that weekend.”
With the second half of the NorWOSSA season just around the corner, the Muskies once again find themselves as the team to beat in the league, which has made the players increase their focus on having a solid effort each time out.
“Sometimes you can underestimate those lower teams as you never know how they are going to play, which is what happened to us against [St.] Thomas Aquinas as we barely got out of there with the win,” Bobczynski recalled.
“There isn’t really an easy team in the league this year and there is quite a competitive balance, so you have to go in there every night and know what to expect,” Leishman agreed.
“But if we keep playing like we have in our last two home games, that shouldn’t be an issue at all,” Bobczynski added.