Muskies unable to live up to lofty goals

Gordon Anderson

PETERBOROUGH—The Muskie boys’ hockey team has developed a tradition of excellence over the last decade or two.
When winning becomes the rule rather than exception, however, it can be difficult thing to live up to.
The Muskies competed in the lower ‘A/AA’ division this year but still failed to make it out of their pool, finishing with a 1-1-2 record that left them a point short of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Head coach Shawn Jourdain thought this season’s squad set lofty goals, but he wasn’t sure if they were realistic.
“If you would have told me at the start of the year that we would have had the goal we did [to reach the all-Ontarios], I would have been surprised,” he admitted.
Jourdain’s main rationale for that indecision was the disparity in talent on the roster.
He thought there was a larger skill gap in comparison to other seasons, and the biggest challenge was making things equitable and giving every player purpose within the constraints of a team.
“This year, as compared to other years, [was] the difference between our top two lines [compared] to our [bottom] two lines,” he remarked.
“Years previously, we had four really strong lines that we could go with all year long.
“It’s just how to balance those things and keep it somewhat even [playing time],” he reasoned.
They managed to overcome the talent disparity and reach other OFSAA tournaments, but the same problem creeps in every year when they get there.
Mind and body are in different area codes altogether.
“We seem to have a tough time, once we’re there, getting our legs and that’s something we going to have to figure out in years to come,” Jourdain said.
Fort High is the only high school team in the area playing (waiting would be more accurate) during early March and finding a series of exhibition games to keep the mental and physical skills sharp is challenging.
Jourdain said it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a game and he’s not sure how to solve it.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he conceded. “I really don’t know.
“That’s something for us to figure out in the years to come.”
Jourdain was disappointed for the kids because he really wants them to experience winning at OFSAA like he did in his days with the black-and-gold.
“I would love for them to experience winning down there,” he remarked.
“There is nothing like it and that is what my main goal is—to give them the opportunity to have that feeling that I had back when I played.”
But Jourdain is not too upset that he can’t see the wide-reaching benefits for all concerned.
For the coaching staff, it’s “just hanging out with these kids every year. [It’s] the most fun and it keeps us young as coaches,” he said.
And for the players?
“The banter in the dressing room is the main thing, but you watch them get along,” Jourdain added. “They all come from different walks of life and to see them become a family of 20 brothers.
“It was a group effort and a family atmosphere, and they do everything for each other and they treat each other like they are brothers,” he noted.