Swanson, Anderson rescue Majettes
Two coaches left Maysa Arena disappointed on Thursday night – one whose team was outplayed, and the other whose team lost.
Minot senior Makaila Anderson tallied a goal and an assist and classmate Sydney Swanson had a brilliant 41-save performance to help the Majettes defeat Williston 4-2 in girls hockey.
The Coyotes (7-5 overall, 4-5 state) controlled the puck for much of the contest and outshot the Majettes 43-24, but ran into a brick wall in Swanson.
A couple of Swanson’s saves were highlight-worthy. With 6:35 left in the second period, she quickly snared a point-blank shot with the glove and made a sprawling pad save minutes later.
“The best defense in hockey is a hot goaltender and Swanson’s a very strong goaltender,” Williston coach Mat Ekblad said. “She moves well, she follows the puck, she stays square. You have to get her moving around, you have to get screens in front of her to be able to get those goals. … We had a lot of traffic in front of the net tonight and still she seemed to kick her leg out or get the knob of her stick on it. It’s just one of those deals where the goaltender was standing on her head.”
Minot (8-2, 6-2) gave its standout goalie an early cushion with a two-goal first period.
At 6:52 of the frame, Anderson skated in on net and forced Williston goaltender Maddy McLees to make a lunging save. McLees couldn’t make it two in a row, though, as Minot sophomore Sydney Boyce corralled the rebound and flipped in a backhanded shot.
Less than six minutes later, Anderson stole an errant Williston pass in the offensive zone and beat McLees with a wrist shot into the top right corner. The short-handed tally gave the Majettes a 2-0 lead it would sustain through the end of the period.
“My teammate pressured really well and I intercepted the pass,” Anderson said. “I literally just flung it at the net and fell. I didn’t even know if it went in at first, but my teammate gave me a huge hug and I knew it went in.”
Williston scored a power-play goal at 2:47 of the second period to cut Minot’s lead to 2-1. Freshman Bethanie Pippin snagged a rebound and slid the puck past Swanson, who did some of her best work the rest of the period. She finished the second frame with 17 saves.
“I don’t think we were ready for the game tonight,” MHS coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. “We got outshot 2-to-1. We felt like we were back on our heels a lot in our defensive zone, and thank goodness for Syd because we would’ve been in a lot of trouble if it wasn’t for her.”
The Majettes scored twice in a span of 40 seconds later in the period to regain control. Sophomore Kinsey Hanson cleaned up a rebound in front of the net for the first tally, and senior Skylar Sattler scored shortly after on an assist from junior Taryn Love.
Williston kept the pressure on Minot all night, whereas MHS scored its goals on rebounds and quick rushes to the net.
“It’s a hard one to swallow when you lose the games that you feel like you should’ve won, but we’re gonna hopefully take something from it,” Ekblad said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids on this hockey team and you try to find a teachable moment in everything, and tonight it’s just a little adversity and how we’re gonna pick ourselves up after a loss like this.”
Williston senior Jordan Hill added a lamp-lighter with 4.4 seconds left to account for the final margin.
Despite her stellar performance, Swanson was still thinking about that last goal after the contest.
“I could’ve controlled my rebounds a little more and that last one snuck through, but I think I played pretty well,” she said.
Both teams are back in action Saturday. Minot travels to Dickinson and Williston hosts Bismarck.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University and high school athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.