Two losses costly for Muskie girls

Joey Payeur

It was not what they had predicted for themselves.
The Muskie girls’ hockey team has no shot to return to the podium for a second-straight season after losing both its games yesterday at the OFSAA ‘A/AA’ provincial championship in Stratford.
The fourth-ranked squad, which won the silver medal at the all-Ontarios last year in Kenora, fell 5-1 to the 13th-ranked Ecole Secondaire Catholique Embrun Cyclones (Embrun) in its opener Tuesday morning.
The Muskies then started strong in their second game that afternoon but couldn’t maintain the momentum in a 5-3 loss to the seventh-seeded Holy Trinity Secondary School Titans (Courtice).
At 0-2, the Muskies’ hopes for finishing in the top two in Pool ‘D’ already were gone when they faced off earlier today against the 10th-ranked Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School Spartans (London).
A win against the Spartans, coupled with an Embrun loss to Holy Trinity (2-0), would put Fort Frances, Mother Teresa, and Embrun tied for second at 1-2, with all three teams having beat each other once.
But the Muskies are on the short end of both tie-breaker scenarios.
As such, regardless of the outcome of this morning’s game, Fort High will play in the consolation quarter-finals later today against either the third- or fourth-place team in Pool ‘C.’
The consolation semi-finals also are set for tomorrow morning, followed by the consolation bronze- and gold-medal games.
“[Against the Cyclones], we weren’t ready to play, which is hard to believe after 45 games,” Muskie head coach Todd Hamilton said bluntly.
“The other team was ready and we just stood around and watched them score.”
Rylee Redford scored short-handed in the first period to put Fort High up 1-0.
But Embrun scored twice in 3:24 before the first intermission, then put the game away with three more goals in the third period.
In their second game, Annalise Hayes got the Muskies rolling with a backhand effort in the first.
Holy Trinity tied it, but Janelle Kaemingh’s blast put Fort High back in front and caused the Titans to call time-out.
“We came out a lot better and used our speed,” noted Hamilton.
But then what seemed like a non-stop march to the penalty box for the Muskies turned the game in Holy Trinity’s favour.
The Titans tied the game early in the second, then took the lead before the period was over.
The Muskies wound up with 12 penalties in the game, with six of those coming in the third period after Holy Trinity scored twice within the first minute to go up 5-2.
“To come out one goal down and give up a goal 15 seconds into a period is unacceptable,” Hamilton fumed.
Redford converted a feed from Jenna Clendenning with 12:20 remaining to cut the deficit.
But the stream of penalties dented Fort High’s hopes of getting all the way back.
“Teams like that will pick you apart if you give them too many chances,” said Hamilton.
“And when you keep having to put the same players out there to kill penalties, they eventually get gassed,” he reasoned.
Hamilton lauded Grade 10 rookie goalie Sydney Beck despite the two losses.
“Syd played great in both games; she just wasn’t getting much support,” he remarked.