Two more close losses for Muskie girls

Dan Falloon

Here’s a bit of a telling stat as to how the Muskie girls’ hockey season has gone so far.
Although the black-and-gold sport just a 1-6 record in NorWOSSA play, they’ve still scored more goals than they’ve allowed, holding a 25-24 margin in that category.
Their lone win being of the 12-3 variety certainly helps, but still the margin of defeat in their six losses has been a combined eight goals, including an empty-netter.
A 3-1 loss in Kenora on Thursday night, followed by a 4-3 setback in Dryden on Friday, did nothing to help matters as the Muskies’ two chief NorWOSSA rivals put more separation between themselves and Fort High in the standings.
“It’s tough losing these close games, but we’re close and that’s a positive,” stressed head coach Mel Langtry.
“It’s not nice to be losing these games, but it’d be a lot worse if we were getting kicked 8-0,” he reasoned.
“We’re there. It’s just a matter of battling through that last little bit, getting that second effort, and getting that goal we need.”
Langtry’s prescription for success is to get more shots from in close. Too many are coming from the perimeter—and are not being followed up but Muskie attackers.
He pointed to the Muskies’ 30 shots against Kenora on Thursday but coming away with just one goal by Jessica Taggart.
“When you get 30 shots, you’ve got to get more than one goal,” he stressed.
“We’re not getting those garbage goals,” Langtry noted. “We’re not getting the rebounds. We’re not driving to the net.
“We’re waiting ’til it stops and then, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got to go there.’ That’s a little bit too late.
“We’re getting the far-out shots that are nice, but we’re not getting there for the secondary shot,” Langtry reiterated.
He feels the Kenora Broncos are the top team in NorWOSSA. But while happy to have stayed relatively close in their three meetings so far this season, Langtry wants to be able to pull off a win.
“We’ve got to be able to beat them,” he stressed. “We’re coming close.
“Kenora is a good, good forechecking team and they pinch really hard,” he added. “We had a few troubles getting out of our end, so that cost us.”
Despite jumping ahead 1-0 on Taggart’s tally, Kenora turned the tables in the second period and notched three on Muskie goalie Melissa Payne.
“In the second, they came full force and got three on us,” noted Langtry.
“They weren’t the best goals,” he recalled. “One kind of glanced off one of our defender’s legs and went in.
“We outshot them in the third, but we just couldn’t find the net,” Langtry added. “We were getting a little worn down and that, but we have to push through that.”
In Friday’s game, Langtry said the Eagles’ offence was doing pretty much exactly what he wanted to see his squad doing—scoring on second-chance opportunities.
“In Dryden, their four goals were exactly that. All four—rebounds,” he remarked.
“We’d stop the first one. We wouldn’t clear it out and they got it in there.”
Fort High battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-1 to force ties. Danielle Jean scored the first two goals while Jillian Langtry the other.
But Fort High’s comeback was quashed when they were whistled for what Langtry referred to as a “phantom call” late in the third period.
Dryden subsequently netted the game-winner.
Langtry acknowledged he wasn’t happy with the officiating in Friday’s game, feeling the Eagles began “taking liberties” with some of his players, especially in the third.
But with the Muskies allowing 76 shots on Thursday and Friday combined, tightening up in front of Payne (who played both NorWOSSA games) and Dana Cridland (who backstopped the Muskies to a 5-3 exhibition win over Baudette last Tuesday in Emo) is crucial.
“That’s a little bit too many [shots]. We’d like to cut that down,” he noted.
“They’re [the goalies] stopping the first one. We’ve just got to get rid of the rebound, the one sitting there.”
The Muskie girls will be back on the ice next Monday (Dec. 27) for their alumni game, which will start around 1:45 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“That’ll be a little bit lighter atmosphere, and it’ll be nice for the girls just to play around,” Langtry reasoned.
“It’s always a good outing,” he added. “Some of those [alumni] girls have been playing, still, so they’ll be fast and ready to kick our butts.
“The girls get to play different positions and play around a bit.”
On the injury front, Langtry hopes to have forwards Alyssa Penner and Shelby Tymkin back before the Muskies head off to the annual John Taylor Piper Classic tournament in Winnipeg from Jan. 6-9.
He’s also hoping to pick up one player from the local girls’ hockey league, which would help shore up the back end.
In Dryden on Friday, Jean moved up to forward, with Katie Sinclair dropping back.
Langtry hopes that if the player does join the team, both Jean and Sinclair will play up front.
“Another body will be great for us,” he remarked. “Then we’re not throwing a forward back.”
The Muskies have not had their entire roster together at any point so far, so Langtry is keeping his fingers crossed in the hopes of pulling off some wins late in the season, when the importance starts to ramp up.
“Once we get our full squad back, I can’t see us having any problem with being right there, or getting the one or two goals we need to get past these teams,” he predicted.
“We haven’t had the chemistry yet because the lines haven’t been all together. The defence partners have been all changed around.
“Once we get that and get things rolling, we should be good come January and February,” he remarked.