Muskies’ mascot proving to be ‘Gold’-en

What is it that binds them?
What is it that pulls the Muskie boys’ soccer team together?
Is it a song? No. A saying? Sorry—but spin the wheel again. How about a stuffed Looney Tunes character?
Ding, ding, ding—tell them what they’ve won Johnny.
The item that has been the mainstay for the team since their Winnipeg tournament a few weeks back is none other than Daffy Duck, who is known affectionately known as (drum roll) Goldie.
“Goldie is the mascot the guys won/bought at the Saturday team event at the Fun-FX in Winnipeg,” laughed head coach Shane Beckett.
“It was between Strawberry Shortcake or Daffy, so I’m glad they went with Goldie,” Beckett added, who also noted the team must have Goldie in their final huddle before the start of a game.
And ever since the addition of Goldie to the roster, the Muskies have gone undefeated,. But their stellar play can’t be wholly attributed to just their black-and-gold mascot—the Muskies, themselves, probably had a part in that.
Like this past weekend, where the Muskies went undefeated in four games at their own tournament to identify them as the cream of the crop of the seven teams that took part.
It started on Friday morning against the Dryden Eagles in what was stamped as an “English” brand of soccer (see: aggressive).
But it seems like it’s a type of play they don’t mind playing. The game ended as a 1-1 draw; (Niels Nijssen scored the lone Muskie goal) a result that four-year Muskie player, Chris Plett, thought the team could’ve won.
“We could’ve beat Dryden. We were running around a bit more and we maybe didn’t know out positions as well. We played an overall solid game, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” said Plett, who along with Chris Faragher, a fifth-year Muskie, were recently named as the team’s co-captains.
Said Beckett of the team’s co-captains, who were elected “almost unanimously”: “This is the player’s team. They chose their goals and they got to choose their leaders as well. What’s great is they [Faragher and Plett] compliment each other and it really seems to work on the field.”
But it was after the Dryden game that the Muskies started rolling. First on the dining menu were the Beaver Brae Broncos of Kenora, who had difficulties even crossing into the Muskies’ zone, let alone formulating any real scoring threat.
The Muskies would win the Friday afternoon game 2-0 with goals from Nijssen and and a penalty shot from Plett. It’s one of the easiest ways to score, which Plett did, but it proved to himself that he could control his nerves.
You see, Plett had missed a penalty kick in the ‘B’ final against the JHS Bruns in the St. John’s Ravenscourt in Winnipeg just a week earlier. The score was 1-0 for the Bruns at the time, and though the Muskies would storm back to win 4-1, with Goldie on the bench being surpassingly silent, the miss left Plett with some doubts.
“I wasn’t nervous this time for the penalty shot, because I knew I had to put it in and Niels gave me a good talk to before the shot and told me, ‘Feel no pressure and put it in the back of the net’” said Plett. “I think I did redeem myself.”
But the goal was almost a certainty as the penalty shot resulted from Beaver Brae’s keeper receiving a red card for ‘dangerous play’ when he tried to swipe the legs from under a Muskie player. The play was retaliatory since the previous play saw a Muskie forward ram into him, which resulted in no whistle being blown.
And in the next game against the Red Lake Rams on Saturday afternoon, it would be Plett, again, with another try at a penalty shot called on a hand violation by a Rams’ defender.
“Come on Plett, do it again,” said Beckett. And that’s exactly what he did to give the Muskies a 1-0 win in a game that was suspicious in its final score since the Muskies had dominated with their possession of the ball. A strong wind neutralized the Muskies on many occasions.
“We just tried to keep the ball low, and keep the passes short,” said Muskie forward Scott McFayden.
Next up would be the Rainy River Owls, who were 3-0 heading into the match.
And though it was for exhibition, heading into the game Scott McFayden said “this is for pride” since the two teams played a few weeks ago in a match that the outcome favoured the Owls.
“We want to show them what we’re all about this time. We’re got lots of games in us now and we’re pumped up,” McFayden added.
The game was an excellent one between two clubs that are trying to raise the profile of soccer in the Rainy River district and was watched by a large contingent of people in what essentially was the championship game of the tournament.
The Muskies would win 2-0 with goals provided by Lucas Romaniuk from a strike that came 30-yards out and McTavish from a header that came from a Kevin Plett cross.
“I think it was a fantastic game and our young guys got a chance to play the young Muskies guys, and I think our guys did really well,” said the Owls’ head coach, John Laplante, whose team is currently tops in the NorWOSSA ‘A’ and have faced the Muskies in the NorWOSSA championship the past two years.
“We try to keep the kid’s minds on playing the best you can, and if you lose, big deal. It’s not always about winning, but playing to the best of your ability, and I think we’ve tried to do that and I think that’s been a big part of our success,” said Laplante, who is in his third year with the team.
Added Beckett on his Rainy River counterparts: “You have to give Rainy credit, because there are some good teams on that other side, but what Rainy does is they out hustle everybody and when you give them an opportunity they will put it in the back of the net.”
The Muskies will now set their sights on a tournament in Dryden this weekend, which will be the last tune-up before the NorWOSSA championships that will be held in Kenora next Wednesday and one thing that is for certain is this–Goldie will be there.
“We’re undefeated with Goldie, but you have to be good to be lucky,” says Beckett.
You also have to be good to be golden.