Muskies take pair from Red Lake Falls

A broken fuel line on the team bus was the only thing that could slow down the Muskie boys’ hockey squad last weekend as they went into the Christmas break with a pair of easy exhibition wins.
Steven Sus and Greg Flewelling each scored twice to lead the Muskies over the Red Lake Falls (Mn.) Eagles 8-1 on Friday, then Cody Wood pitched the shutout in goal in Saturday’s 6-0 win.
“We didn’t give them a chance to get anything going,” said Muskie head coach Shane Bliss. “In a couple of periods, Red Lake Falls barely touched the puck.
“Our defence was sharp, and we moved the puck smarter than we have been lately.
“The Eagles [coached by former Muskie O.J. Kennett] weren’t too bad, but they had no players who really stuck out,” Bliss added.
“They’re a really young team, and they should be a lot better in the next couple of years.”^Bliss recently juggled his forward lines, breaking up the highscoring trio of Sus, Mike Niskala, and Justin Larson to try and spread the scoring out more evenly.
“We’ve had a couple of flat games lately and I didn’t want it to be a continuing trend,” Bliss said of the move. “Things were getting a little stale, and I thought the change might be effective so we didn’t get into a rut.
“That’s not to say we can’t go back to the old line combinations if I want to switch things up in the future,” he added.
David Pierce was one of the early beneficiaries of the changes as he found himself teamed with the Sus, the black-and-gold’s leading scorer, along with speedy firstyear winger Brock Benjamin.
Pierce opened the scoring in Friday’s game when he converted a Sus pass at 10:08 of the first.
Flewelling then made it 2-0 at 15:02, with Mitch Green assisting.
Benjamin had the lone goal of the second at the 9:26 mark before Red Lake Falls made a little noise early in the third when Corey Rystad scored unassisted at 1:54.
But that would be goalie Jason Green’s only miscue of the night as the veteran Muskie goalie was unbeatable the rest of the way while his teammates filled the Eagles’ net.
Larson started the barrage at 9:47, followed by Sus at 13:11 to stretch the gap to 5-1. Then Terry Kellar, Sus, and Flewelling rounded out the scoring with three goals in 1:31 as the black-and-gold outshot the Eagles 37-17.
Benjamin and Niskala got the ball rolling Saturday with firstperiod markers to put the Muskies up 2-0 after 20 minutes. But Niskala had his day come to a premature end in the second when a knee-on-knee collision forced him from the game.
“There’s some bruising, but no serious damage,” said Bliss. “With a couple of days of rest, he should be okay.”^Kellar connected for a shorthanded tally at 5:42 of the second to boost the advantage to 3-0.
Larson struck at 15:27 and Mark Kellar only 1:13 later to cement the lead even further entering the third.
Pierce completed the Muskies’ offensive effort with his goal at 8:02 of the third. Wood turned aside 12 shots to earn the shutout.
Fort High next will head to Duluth for the Hilltoppers Holiday Classic, which runs Monday through Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Muskie girls’ hockey team will trek to Minneapolis for the Schwan Cup hockey tournament this Friday through Tuesday.
The Schwan Cup event combines the former Minnesota Girls’ Holiday Cup tournament, which the Muskies have competed in during previous years, with the former Capital City Classic boys’ tourney.