Muskies return to ice with OFSAA hopes

As the Muskie hockey team returned to the ice Monday afternoon, head coach Glen Edwards said he wanted to get his team’s lines ready–and systems in place–as soon as possible.
The black-and-gold have just over two weeks before they see their first exhibition action at the Warroad Jamboree on Nov. 13-15, then they host the Kenora Broncos in their NorWOSSA opener Nov 17.
The Muskies have just one forward position to add to their lineup of six defencemen, 12 forwards, and two goalies. They currently have three goalies in camp but Edwards warned they will trim that down to two after the Warroad tourney.
“The Warroad Jamboree will be a real testing ground for the rookies because we’ve picked the team early and we want to go right into the league with what we do [well] right after that,” said Edwards, in his second season as head coach.
In the past, the Muskies have carried as many as five lines at different times but because of the strength of the Midget house league and the new Midget “AA” rep team this season, the black-and-gold now have a much more workable number of players.
“This is ideally what we want,” said Edwards. “Before, there was no place for them to play and it would have been a wasted year for [the fifth-line players].
“But now everyone will benefit from the Midget program,” he added.
Still, Edwards said he wasn’t quite sure how the season would transpire should the Muskies run into injury trouble.
“I’m not sure how that would shake out because the Midget team is too much of an independent operation but I don’t anticipate we will reach down to the Midget team to fill out our lineup.
“We’ve very seldom had to do that in 25 years and have never taken from a travel team,” he noted.
With Dryden hosting the all-Ontario championships next March, Edwards admitted this season has an added incentive to reach the provincial tournament.
“I think so,” he replied when asked if their hopes are higher in reaching OFSAA this year. “[But] our goal is to reach the all-Ontarios every year, which is a realistic goal.”
Edwards feels his team should be very competitive again, especially considering defending-league champs Dryden and Red Lake have lost several key players from a year ago.
He does expect Sioux Lookout to ice a better–and more experienced–team but admitted he wasn’t quite sure how good Kenora would be.
Still, Edwards also knows his team will have to step it up offensively with the loss of top scorers Aaron Grynol (Thunder Bay Flyers) and Frank Redford (graduation). But he expects certain players to pick up their game in the offensive zone to compensate.
Look for Chuck Arpin (10 goals/six assists last season), David Lloyd (10 goals/10 assists), and Brad Gushulak (six goals/nine assists) to carry the bulk of the team’s scoring this year.
Defensively, the club is fairly stable with returning defencemen Steve Baker, James Asplund, Jon Rogoza, and John Lloyd–all with another year of experience under their belts.
“We have some size back there although we didn’t really get quicker,” Edwards said. “But those guys played well near the end of last season and they will have to step it up to replace [Shane] Beazley and [David] Bond [both lost to graduation].”