MINOT HIGH STATE HOCKEY TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Majettes rested, ready for challenging tournament opener

Nearly two weeks will have passed between the Minot High School girls hockey team’s last game of the regular season and its opening-round state tournament game against Bismarck on Thursday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Majettes the No. 6 seed have had ample time to rest before making the trip to Grand Forks as they haven’t played since an 8-0 loss to top-seeded West Fargo on Feb. 9.

“The girls are excited,” MHS coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. “Having a young team like this, this is their first time going down to play in a state tournament instead of just watching.”

Minot hasn’t won a first-round game at state since a 3-2 overtime victory over Fargo South in 2006 and faces a Blizzard team that swept the Majettes in two matchups this year. Bismarck won the first contest 6-1 before completing the season sweep with a 5-2 victory at Maysa Arena.

Seven all-West Region selections will share the ice when the teams meet Thursday. Senior Jessie Kongelf and juniors Makaila Anderson and Sydney Swanson earned honors for the Majettes, while sophomores Lauren Bishof and Jessie Binstock and seniors Brianna Flynn and Haleigh Springan were recognized for Bismarck.

“It’s going to be a tight, tough game,” Wahlstrom said. “Teams tighten up at state and goals are hard to come by. They’re probably a little bit deeper than us in terms of numbers, but I think we’re going to match up well with them.”

The state tournament serves as the last go-round for Minot’s six seniors, including leading scorer Jessie Kongelf. The senior forward filled the goal-scoring gap left by MaKayla Sandvold’s departure after last year. Kongelf led the Majettes this season with 23 goals – eighth-most in the state – and recorded four hat tricks.

Senior forward Angie Lothspeich will also be playing in her final state tournament. Lothspeich finished the regular season with 20 points (14 goals, 6 assists). She more than doubled her offensive production this season after recording nine points (4 g, 5 a) with the Majettes last season.

Wahlstrom has yet to name the starting goaltender for Thursday’s game, saying that it’s going to come down to the final practices. Swanson and senior Karlee Galvin split starts against Bismarck, each finishing with 39 saves. Both goaltenders have save percentages above 90 percent.

“Goaltending has always been our ace in the hole,” Wahlstrom said. “Either one we put in gives us a chance to win.”

Swanson got the starting nod in two of the three games at state last year, recording 54 saves on 59 shots faced. Galvin missed all of last year with a concussion.