Out on a high note: Magicians claim fifth place in penalty-filled affair

GRAND FORKS – The notion that the state tournament’s fifth-place game Saturday was supposed to be a friendly, consolation contest was clearly lost on the boys hockey teams from Minot High and Fargo North.

The teams combined for 24 minors, two majors and two game disqualifications, totaling 56 penalty minutes in a 51-minute hockey game.

The Magicians took advantage of 16 North penalties, scoring three power-play goals in a 5-3 victory over the Spartans to capture the consolation championship at Olympic Arena. Sophomore forward Matt Flom scored twice and tallied an assist and six other skaters tallied points for the Magicians.

“My first two years we lost (the fifth-place game),” senior defenseman Morgen Martelle said. “Finally we got the fifth-place win to take fifth place. We were ranked 10th or 11th coming in, so to take fifth, that’s a big accomplishment.”

Although the Magicians goals were tallied by mostly sophomores and juniors, coach Chad Burckhard was happy the seniors ended their careers with a victory.

“It’s a good way for our seniors to go out,” he said. “They’ve worked hard for two years, some of them three years. It’s good for them to win their last game.”

Flom opened the scoring at three minutes, 38 seconds of the first period with a back-hander in front of the net that deflected off North goaltender Christian Colman before crossing the goal line to give the Magicians the early lead. Flom’s goal was just one of two even-strength tallies for Minot.

With the Magicians drawing first blood, the physicality increased. With that came a flurry of penalties that became the story more so than the final score.

North’s Seth Brenneman took the game’s first penalty for holding Flom, but didn’t have to spend any time in the penalty box as Flom’s goal negated the infraction. Eight penalties were called in the opening period.

It took the Spartans more than 10 minutes to record their first shot on goal, but they made it count. Brodie Gylten tied the game with a wrist shot from the blue line that Minot sophomore goaltender Breydan Effertz couldn’t see due to heavy traffic in front of the net. The Spartans recorded just three shots on net in the first 17 minutes.

Much like the girls team the night before, the overaggressive style of play by North proved to do more harm than good. North’s Tyler Ibach received a five-minute major and a game disqualification for checking from behind at 13:15 of the first period during a scuffle behind the Spartans’ net.

“You just have to play through it,” Martelle said. “You got to give your shots and take your shots. In a game like that you’re going to get hit and you just have to protect yourself.”

Another North roughing penalty 35 seconds later gave the Magicians an extended 5-on-3 power play. Junior forward Jersey Kelly capitalized on the two-man advantage, giving Minot its second lead of the opening frame.

Bad blood between the teams boiled over in the second period with 12 penalties being enforced by the referees. Among the penalties were offsetting roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. Yet with the penalty minutes adding up, North once again knotted the game with an even-strength goal on a goal by Ethan Woods at 6:40 of the second period.

“It was just that kind of game,” Burckhard said. “I thought early in the game we did a good job of moving our feet. We played fast, we played at a quick level and drew a lot of those penalties. The game kind of got ugly in the second period, but our guys did a pretty good job of just playing through most of it, staying out of the chippy stuff.”

The Magicians took control of the game from there, tallying back-to-back power-play goals in a span of 2:25 to build a two-goal lead. Martelle gave Minot its third lead of the game with a wrist shot from the slot at 7:41. Martelle’s power-play goal came after North’ Grayson Klein was called for boarding.

“There were times this year where our power play struggled, but today we brought it,” Martelle said. “(North) was taking trips to the box and we took advantage of it.”

Flom recorded his second goal of the game and the Magicians’ third on the power play 15 seconds into Brenneman’s slashing penalty – the team’s 11th of the game.

“(Special teams) was a big part of the game,” Burckhard said. “Not only our power play, but our penalty kill. It’s a testament to the work we’ve put into the special teams. It’s nice in the last game of the year that we continued to improve all through the end.”

With the game in hand for the Magicians following Hayden Schwarz’s perfectly-placed slap shot, North was still airing out its frustrations. Joey Weist became the second Spartan to be disqualified for checking from behind with 1:34 remaining in the third period. Weist’s penalty was his team’s 16th and final infraction of the contest.