SIOUX CITY | See what happens when the Sioux City Musketeers take games one at a time?
Losing streaks vanish. Skids such as the three-gamer that preceded the Musketeers’ current two-game winning streak haven’t lasted long in Jay Varady’s two seasons as head coach.
“We don’t look at streaks around here,” said Varady following Friday’s 6-3 win over Sioux Falls.
“We don’t talk about that at all, so we didn’t know it was three (losses) in a row. It’s just one day at a time for us.”
All Varady was looking at going into last Friday’s game was a motivated Sioux Falls team trying to win to stay alive for a berth in the upcoming United States Hockey League Clark Cup Playoffs. His team was motivated to “get that little ‘x’ next to our name for the playoffs.”
It didn’t happen that night, but it came following Saturday’s 6-0 win at Madison. The Musketeers (34-16-5) and Western Conference leader Tri-City (34-16-6) each clinched playoff berths.
Heading into this weekend’s two-game homestand against Team USA (23-27-2) starting Friday, the Musketeers are back in dominant form. Goaltender Cam Gornet (10-7-1, 2 shutouts, 2.33 GAA) stopped 69 of 70 shots in the last five periods of last weekend’s action and picked up his second shutout of the season against Madison.
Beginning with a late first-period power play goal from Robert Carpenter (31 goals, 26 assists) that snapped a 2-2 tie against Sioux Falls, the Musketeers outscored last weekend’s competition 10-1. Joe Snively (22, 35) had two goals and four assists on the weekend.
Joel Janatuinen (20, 29) celebrated his new left wing position on the line that also includes center Snively and right wing Adam Johnson (30, 35) with two goals and two assists.
“We weren’t getting a lot of five on five chances so we decided to mix things up,” said Snively. “We have good chemistry. We know where each other is going to be. We all have poise and control of the puck and we are able to make plays. All three of us can score goals.”
Sam Kurker (23, 24), now on the third line with Jake Durflinger (7, 14) and Max Kalter (10, 16), makes the Musketeers the only team in the USHL with five players with 20 or more goals. Eastern Conference leader Youngstown (36-13-5) and second-place Cedar Rapids (36-17-0), two teams that have also clinched playoff berths, can’t boast that same fact.
Four of Sioux City’s last five games are against teams that are below fourth place in both the West and the East. So, in essence, the Musketeers have a chance to break their Tier 1 Era 38 wins first set in 2003-04 and tied last season.
Don’t ask Varady to speculate. After all, Sioux City hasn’t faced Team USA this season. The Musketeers are 4-3 against Fargo (April 3 at Tyson), lost 6-2 at Waterloo (April 4 at Waterloo) and are 0-1-1 in their last two visits to Sioux Falls (April 10 at Sioux Falls).
As far as team members go, they’re still taking it one game at a time.
“We don’t want to think too much about the standings,” said Janatuinen. “We just want to focus on one game at a time and just try to get two points for every game. That’s pretty much it.”