Muskies Starting to Gel, Eye Conference Finals

The Sioux City Musketeers have a chance to do something on Friday that hasn't been done in almost 10 years, win a playoff series. The last time that happened, was 2005, which also the last time they made the Clark Cup Finals.

While that part still remains to be seen, getting to this point of the playoffs has been the tough part. Injuries and suspensions always play a part throughout a hockey season, but this year the Muskies have been hit especially hard.

The team has lost players for more than 50 games due to suspensions, injuries and other scenarios this season, including losing captain Trevor Olson to what looked like a season ending injury.

The Muskies have also seen its share of national team call-ups, most recently, Waltteri Hopponen playing for Team Finland, causing him to miss the first round of the playoffs.

Through all of this, they still sit just one win away from advancing to the Western Conference finals.

Now with Olson back, the team appears to be gelling and getting stronger, meaning the Muskies' best hockey, may still be ahead.

"We came into this series not even healthy either, not having all of our guys," said Jared Thomas, the Musketeers' leading point-getter in the playoffs. "We just look at it, whatever line-up we have, we know we have a chance to win. We're just that deep of a team and we've got that many guys that can play. If one guy gets hurt, another guy is going to step up and take his spot. We just know whatever line-up we put out there we're going to have success and if we play the right way, we're going to win."

"We've definitely been gelling a lot, especially after these two wins," said Kyle Hayton, the Musketeers' goalie who will get the start in net against Omaha Friday night. "Everyone's so excited for playoffs, but we've been down guys all season and it's going to happen playing hockey. We're still down (Waltteri Hopponen), he's still gone so guys have to fill in and they have to take the place of other guys who are out."

And if you're wondering about that hat, Kyle explains more about that tradition.

"It's given to a player who has a good performance," said Hayton. "And does either a little thing or has a good overall game. And the next game that person passes it off to another player."

Kyle will hopefully pass that hat, after a win Friday night.

Game three against Omaha is set for 7:05 down at the Tyson.

A win will send the Muskies to the Western Conference finals next Friday against Waterloo, who beat Sioux Falls Thursday evening, 7-2 to win the series 3-0.

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