MANITOULIN—Both the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) Mustang boys’ and girls’ hockey teams have qualified for the finals, with both teams going into playdowns this week.
The Mustang boys won the semi-final series against Espanola and will now move on to play the Lockerby Vikings in the Consolation (B division) Finals. Game one was scheduled for this past Monday, February 26 at 7 pm at Carmichael Arena. Game two will take place Friday, March 2 at 4 pm in Little Current. In the A finals the Confederation Charges have taken a 1 to 0 lead in their series with the St. Charles Cardinals. The winner of that series will go on to play for the Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics championship and the right to go to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships.
The first game in the semi-final series saw the Mustang boys play in Espanola with the Spartans taking a one game lead in the series with a solid two-way effort.
“The score stayed at zero through most of the first period, with the Spartans striking for two quick goals late in the first early in the second period,” explained Mustang Coach Steve Doane. “Espanola did an excellent job of throwing us off balance by checking us and plugging up the middle of the ice. The Mustangs were able to claw their way back into the game in the third and even the score at 2 to 2. Then with a minute left in the game a Spartan defenceman sent a quick accurate shot from the blue line that found the short side and the back of the net. Spartans up one to nothing in the 2 of 3 series.”
Game two was played in Little Current on February 15 with the Mustangs winning 6 to 2. “The boys were determined not to let their season end after a first game let down and were able to use the friendly confines of their home rink as well as their speed to their advantage,” continued Coach Doane. “Brandon Anhwatin Lewis was the winning goalie, Tait Wallace led the way scoring four points for the Mustangs. Jayden Little was also very strong for the Mustangs up the middle, taking a lot of our end zone faceoffs. It was a solid team effort overall with all three lines chipping in.”
Game three, originally delayed by an ice storm, was played in Little Current this past Friday, February 23.
“The score was knotted at 1 to 1 at the end of the first on a goal by Tait Wallace from Ben Marshall and Kyle Debassige,” explained Coach Doane. “In the second period, the Mustangs got two goals from Nate Debassige with assists going to Brett Ense and linemate Zack Paul. We were happy to get speedy winger Connor Bellmore back into the lineup after suffering a serious ankle injury. He showed that speed when he took a pass from Parker Dickinson, and blasted down the right wing, around the defence and went top corner on the goalie. It was one of the prettiest goals of the season. Boston Thibault added another goal going hard to the net in the third period from Debassige and Paul to salt away with victory. Brandon Anwhatin Lewis was the winning goalie. It was a solid overall defensive effort by the entire group. Espanola tried to get us off of our game a bit with some physical play but the boys didn’t let it bother them.”
Coaches Steve Doane and Jordan Smith noted that they have been pleased with the team’s overall discipline this season.
“As a group we have taken very few selfish penalties all year long,” commented Coach Doane. “This is the first team that I have seen in my years here the has not had a major misconduct penalty, yet they still manage to play a tough physical game when they want to. We are very proud of them for their self control, I just hope that they can keep it up. I am sure that the refs appreciate the discipline as well as it makes their jobs more fun.”
The Mustang girls won their semi finals against L’Horizon and will move on to the finals this week.
On Thursday, February 15 the girls played against L’Horizon and won 4-1. They faced off again on February 22 winning 2-1.
Bishop Alexander was scheduled to play off against St. Benedict on Monday, February 26. If Bishop Alexander won, the Mustang girls were to be heading into a best 2 out of 3 series finals against the Sudbury team starting on Tuesday, February 27.