Muskies split with Rams

The Arctic climate didn’t seem quite appropriate for a Mexican stand-off.
Nevertheless, the visiting Muskie boys’ hockey team and the host Red Lake Rams each took a victory by identical scores in NorWOSSA action there last Friday and Saturday.
The black-and-gold (12-2-2 in league play) fired the first salvo Friday night in a 3-1 triumph, then watched the Rams beat them 3-1 in the rematch Saturday afternoon.
“I would have been happier if we got both, but at least we didn’t lose both,” reasoned Muskie head coach Shane Bliss, whose team can clinch first place—and home ice advantage throughout the NorWOSSA playoffs—if they can win their last five league games.
A scoreless first period Friday was quickly changed by Red Lake’s Cody Jeffries 22 seconds into the second when he beat Fort High goalie Jason Green.
But Muskie captain Steven Sus wasn’t about to stand idly by and watch the Rams coast to their fourth win in five meetings against the black-and-gold.
Sus converted David Pierce’s pass at 9:17 of the middle frame, then came back 31 seconds later to help the Muskies take the lead.
Justin Larson added an insurance marker at 13:57 of the third, assisted by Brian White and Kyle McTavish.
Bliss was in rough shape Saturday, confining himself to the team bus for the first two periods of that afternoon’s game due to illness.
He did drag himself inside the arena to take in the third, but he might as well have stayed at rest on the bus as the offence for both teams already had been taken care of for the day.
Terry Kellar, who was ejected from Friday night’s contest for checking from behind, got the Muskies off to a flying start just 34 seconds into the game, with Pierce and McTavish drawing the assists.
But Rams’ captain and leading scorer Breven Gawley made his presence felt at 5:56, with the aid of one of Ryan Sawchuk’s three assists in the game.
Tyler Rolfe then burned the Muskies twice in the second period, connecting at 3:03 of the frame and again with a back-breaking goal with only 5.6 ticks before intermission.
Bliss wasn’t the only one needing sick bay following the weekend games. Alex McQuarrie missed most of Friday and all of Saturday with a charleyhorse while fellow blueliner Jordan Bale went down with a shoulder injury Saturday.
The status of both players was undetermined at last report.
Fort High already was without forward Kurtis Wepruk, who had suffered a knee injury in the Muskies’ 6-1 exhibition loss to the Lake of the Woods (Baudette) Bears here Jan. 13.
Fort High now gets a break from play until the end of the month, when they journey to Winnipeg for the annual John Taylor Classic.
They resume NorWOSSA action Feb. 3 in Kenora against the Broncos, with their next home games slated Feb. 6-7 against the Sioux Lookout Warriors.