Situational play key to Muskie girls

Jamie Mountain

The more you work at something, the more you get better at it.
At least, that’s what the Muskie girls’ hockey team is hoping.
The black-and-gold came out on the wrong side of a 5-4 shootout loss to the host Dryden Eagles on Thursday night that saw their NorWOSSA record fall to 1-2-0-1.
Head coach Chris Sinclair stressed the importance of his squad improving their situational play as they head into tonight’s game against the host Kenora Broncos (2-3).
“A couple areas that we will need to be better in, and will be focusing on, is our situational play,” he noted.
“Whether it is the power play, or penalty kill, or 4-on-4, I think we need to do a better job knowing our assignments and what to do if we get into these situations,” Sinclair said.
“Our power play did score us a couple goals [against Dryden], however, it was very sloppy at times and we need to do a better job of taking advantage of these situations,” he stressed.
Following tonight’s game, the Muskies will head back to Kenora for the annual K-Town Classic tournament this Friday and Saturday.
The black-and-gold then will welcome the unbeaten St. Thomas Aquinas Saints of Kenora (5-0) next Tuesday (Dec. 18) at 7:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
It also will be the team’s annual “Teddy Bear Toss” game.
Sinclair believes the Muskies’ biggest challenge this weekend–and moving forward–will be keeping focused.
“With Christmas and a two-week break from school coming up, I think it’s easy to lose focus,” he warned.
“We play Beaver Brae [today], who I expect will come out wanting to prove they can compete, so we have to be ready.
“Then on the weekend, we will travel to Kenora for a tournament where we play Sioux North [Sioux Lookout] and T.A on Friday, which will be two very important games for us,” Sinclair stressed.
“We haven’t seen Sioux North since our ‘Showcase’ and can only assume they have improved, and the game against T.A., we need to be ready for it as they have had our number so far this year,” he added.
“We will finish the tournament on Saturday and then get to see T.A. again at home next Tuesday for our last game before Christmas.”
As for Thursday’s shootout loss to Dryden (4-1), the Muskies got off to a great start when Savannah McGinnis fired home a feed from Martina Woods to open the scoring in the first period.
But the Eagles struck back with three unanswered goals to grab a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Showing some fight, Jill Calder made it a one-goal game for the Muskies in the third when she finished off a feed from Issy Taylor.
McGinnis then knotted it at 3-3 with her second tally of the game, with Tatum Glowasky drawing the lone assist.
Then after Dryden took the lead once again, Calder came through with her second marker of the night to force overtime.
After overtime solved nothing, the game moved to the shootout.
Neither team could solve the opposing goalie until the fourth round, when Dryden finally capitalized.
Makenna Henttonen had the last gasp for the Muskies but couldn’t find a way to beat Eagles’ goalie Hannah Zilkalns.
“I thought we played well for about 45 minutes,” Sinclair said. “We started well by pressuring them and controlling the play, which allowed us to score the first goal.
“After that, we kind of just stopped moving our feet and got a bit lazy, allowing them to take control and score three on us,” he noted.
“After that, we were able to regroup and get back to playing our game.
“A couple areas that we did well in was not giving up,” he lauded. “We were down 3-1 going into the third period so that next goal was key.
“We were able to score early and continue to roll after that.
“Something that any coach would be happy with is our relentlessness and ‘never quit’ mentality,” Sinclair added. “We have done a very good job the past couple games not giving up and finding a way to battle back.
“I think that says a lot towards the four leaders on the team–Emily Kaun, Alex Gartzke, Reece McQuaker, and Jill Calder–for motivating the girls and encouraging them to stick with it and not give up.”