The season already has had its fair share of challenges but the Muskie girls’ hockey team has met them head on while continuing to look at ways to improve.
A 6-5 loss to the visiting St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) back on Dec. 18 saw the black-and-gold’s NorWOSSA record fall to 2-3-0-1 but head coach Chris Sinclair is hopeful his squad can use the setback to improve in the second half of the season.
“They [the Saints] are a team that capitalizes on their chances so we need to minimize the chances we give them,” he stressed.
“In the offensive zone, we need our third girl to be [up] high to take away the middle of the ice, which they like to use to break out of their zone,” Sinclair noted.
“On their power play, they move the puck well, so it is just a matter of taking away passing and shooting lanes and we can’t get chasing the puck.
“It is a lot of little things that we will be focusing on moving into the second half of the season to find success against both them and Dryden,” he said.
The Muskies resume action this weekend when they head to Thunder Bay to play in the annual Loop Weekend tournament on Friday through Sunday.
Then they’ll kick off second-half NorWOSSA play next Tuesday (Jan. 8) when they host the Dryden Eagles (6-1) at 7 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“We will play a Midget Fury team, Confederation College, and both the ‘A’ and ‘AA’ Midget Queens,” Sinclair said of the trip to Thunder Bay.
“This means that although I want them [the girls] to relax and enjoy the holidays, they need to take some time and do some things active,” he stressed.
“I know they are a very close team and we’re planning to get together for some team activities,” Sinclair noted.
“But whether it be getting to shinny at the rink or an outdoor rink, or getting to the gym, I’m hoping they are doing something.”
Sinclair said he feels as though the Muskies are right where he thought they would be in terms of the standings through the first half of the season–ahead of the Kenora Broncos and Sioux Lookout Warriors but trailing the Saints and Eagles.
“Having said that, I don’t think either Dryden or T.A. expected us to be able to compete with them and have opened their eyes that we are just as good as them,” he remarked.
“Although we are very young, we are not to be taken lightly,” he stressed. “So I believe that our first half was very successful.
“We have played very good hockey and have been getting better and better with each game,” Sinclair lauded.
“I think we have exceeded a lot of expectations and I’m very proud of what they have accomplished thus far, and look forward to an even better second half.”
Sinclair also stressed the importance of his squad needing to be focused each game in the second half as they will face some stiff competition.
“We play both Dryden and T.A. twice more and although we have been able to compete with them, we need to get over that hump and show them that we are capable of beating them,” he conceded.
“We also have two more games with Beaver Brae and play Sioux Lookout four times,” Sinclair added. “We need to have a strong mental game for these games and not take them for granted.
“We need to be up and ready for every game and play each game like it’s our last,” he stressed.