Muskies third at Duluth tourney

A winning end to 2007 was too much to ask for the Muskies at the annual Hilltopper Holiday Classic in Duluth, Mn. last week, settling for third place after some tough battles against bristly American competition.
“Those are the teams we need to play against,” Muskie head coach Shane Bliss said. “If we make a mistake, they make you pay.
“In Duluth or in OFSAA or whatever the case may be, you need to make sure you’re not making the mistakes we were making,” he stressed.
The Muskies opened the tournament on Boxing Day by topping Superior High School 6-4, but then lost 4-3 to eventual champion Edgewood Crusaders from Madison, Wis.
Fort Frances wrapped up the tournament by winning the consolation final by an 8-5 score over Hudson High School on Friday.
Bliss expressed some frustration with how the Muskies reacted to the three Wisconsin teams—falling behind in all three and needing to post sizable third-period comebacks in both their wins.
But he also credited the boys for persevering against some “quality” opposition.
The Muskies got the first goal against the Superior Spartans, but “in the blink of an eye we’re down 4-1,” noted Bliss.
The black-and-gold trailed Edgewood 1-0 from the first to the third before late scoring again was the story.
When it came time to play the Hudson Raiders, “again we put ourselves in the hole . . . we ended up back and forth, back and forth,” said Bliss.
It was only thanks to the sheer force of the Muskie scoring, led by Matt Hebert’s hat trick, that the Muskies placed in the top three.
Still, even if it wasn’t pretty, Bliss said the outcome was “pretty successful.”
“They went out and got the job done. . . . Probably even more exciting games for people to watch. A little hard on the coaching staff,” he chuckled.
But the coach also said the amount of goals scored on the black-and-gold was the key issue of the tournament, and didn’t hesitate when asked about the team’s goaltending, specifically starter David Moen, who played all three games.
“We didn’t have the best goaltending,” Bliss admitted. “David Moen’s been very good for us this year and he’s won a lot of hockey games for us, but he did struggle down here.”
Bliss did say he was pleased with the “solid” job the defence turned in, and noted an even scoring force from the Muskies that saw a half-dozen players post four or five points for a glut in the scoring lead even with a few players sitting out and several others playing while still on the mend.
The Muskies don’t play again until they host the Kenora Broncos in NorWOSSA action next Tuesday (Jan. 8).
Fort High remains the cream of the NorWOSSA crop, leading the league with a 7-0-0-0 record and 44 goals scored to eight against—well ahead of last-place Kenora (1-5-0-0).