Mustangs hockey teams earning points in late-season push

Gabe Hare scored the lone Mustangs’ goal in Friday’s home game against Confederation. photos by Warren Schlote

MANITOULIN – A recent Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) girls’ hockey team game offered a unique moment in high school athletics for a Mustangs goalie—switching sweaters, showing sportsmanlike style in a special situation—when the opponents from Lively found themselves without a goaltender. 

The Lively matchup was no contest for the Mustangs, as the Island contingent formed a much stronger team. The odds shifted yet again, however, when Lively’s sole goalie got injured in the second period.

The Mustangs are privileged to have two strong goalies, so Mr. Meeker asked one of them—Jorja Peltier—to switch sweaters and play the rest of the game for the other team.

“It was wild; in the third period we didn’t score any goals. Jorja is dynamite; she’s been playing really well for us,” he said, adding that the Lively coach was concerned whether Jorja would be actually trying to stop her teammates, but those concerns quickly evaporated.

“It’s hilarious! Where else but in our league would you dress a goalie from the other team to finish the game? All the girls on both sides were laughing about it,” said Mr. Meeker. “That’s what hockey should be.”

In the rest of the girls’ games, there have also been a fair number of losses but not because of any lack of skill or effort on the Mustangs’ part.

“I keep telling them, and they seem to get it, it’s frustrating to lose but we’re playing so well. Every practice we’re going to work on scoring and hopefully that’s going to get better,” said Mustangs girls’ coach Mike Meeker.

The girl Mustangs have been matched up against some of the strongest teams in the league and the games have been incredibly close, usually within one or two goals. If the Mustangs were not as strong as they are, those games would have all turned out to be blowouts. However, they are still hungry as ever to earn wins in their games.

“We’ve been right in there in every single game we’ve played,” said Mr. Meeker. “I think they do understand that they are playing well. And with a few breaks (in a recent game), it could have easily been a one-goal game for us.”

The MSS boys’ hockey team enjoyed some successes before the holiday break and the group has returned refreshed and ready to throw down with their next challengers in the last push before the playoffs.

A few of the Mustangs take a moment to share a laugh with one of their friends in the stands.

The boys’ team has found itself solidly placed in second of five teams in the league’s B division.

“We’re not in a bad spot right now, once we’ve recalibrated everything. We went through a long losing streak at the start and probably should have won a few more,” said Mustangs boys’ coach Craig Abotossaway. “We’re looking forward to a better second half going into this.”

The schedule only holds four games between the holidays and the start of the playoffs. The first took place this past Friday at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre against Confederation.

The boys trailed by one point until the second period when Mustang Gabe Hare fired off a twine tickler to tie the score. Confederation, not to be deterred, kept pushing hard despite being outplayed by the Mustangs, according to trainer Rob Marshall. They ultimately secured a victory of 3-1 over the Mustangs by the end of the third period.

Before the break, the boys made it into the win column twice for this season. One was a forfeit but the other was a hard-fought and earned 4-2 win over Confederation in Sudbury. The boys came from a 2-0 deficit in the first period to net three in the second period and one more in the third.

“The team has responded well in both scenarios. They’ve taken the losses in a positive way with the intent of learning and moving on, they weren’t overly negative,” said Mr. Abotossaway. Conversely, when they got those two win points the boys were not overly exuberant, something Mr. Abotossaway said was an example of the level-headedness and focus of the crew.

“I’m definitely glad we came out with a win. It was a good way to end the season,” he said.

The team will continue to work on breakouts, brushing up its defence and goal-scoring.

Both the boy and girl Mustangs teams face off in a special double-header memorial fundraiser this Friday, January 17 at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre. See the Page 1 story in this newspaper for further details.