No task too tall

They call her “Shorty.” She’s barely 5-foot-3, and just a tad more on skates.

But slowing down Minot High’s diminutive senior forward has proven to be the tallest of tasks for opponents.

Makaila “Shorty” Anderson owns a state-best 50 points for the Majettes (13-2 overall, 11-2 state).

“I think my biggest progress (since last year) is I’m putting more pucks in the net during games and I’m getting a lot of help from my linemates and teammates,” Anderson said. “They’re going hard to the net for me and I’m getting ’em passes and they’re putting them in the net.”

Anderson has incrementally improved her point totals since her freshman season. During that year, she recorded seven points (4 g, 3 a). She followed with 15 points (11 g, 4 a) as a sophomore and 22 points (8 g, 14 a) in her junior campaign. She’s exploded for 30 goals and 20 assists this year.

With six more points, she’ll eclipse 100 points for her career.

Minot coach Weylin Wahlstrom lauded her work ethic. Anderson outworks bigger opponents, and really all opponents, to be sure.

“Of course you can look at the stats and the points and stuff, but overall, it’s what’s done away from the rink that gives her an opportunity to have those types of things happen,” he said.

With Anderson leading the charge, the third-place Majettes have won eight straight contests. Since dropping a 6-1 decision to first-place and defending state champion Bismarck on Dec. 16, Minot has outscored opponents 73-4.

“The win streak is amazing,” Anderson said. “Each year we just progressively have gotten better. It means a lot because it’s my senior year. It just gives me a lot of hope for state coming up.”

Including today’s 7 p.m. rendezvous at Mandan, the Majettes have seven contests left until the state tournament. With a short-handed roster – 16 players, and as few as 11 suiting up some games – Anderson’s presence has meant all the more for her team.

“I think she’s more of a spark,” Wahlstrom said. “When we need a loose puck in the corner, she’s going to go out there and be the first one there, even when some girls might be tired – especially with the small amount of legs we’ve got this year.”

Anderson said she’s expected her scoring output to rise, but not necessarily to skyrocket.

In the Majettes’ 10-0 rout of Jamestown on Friday, she notched four goals – her fourth straight outing with three or more markers – and an assist. She’s shown the ability to excel against stingier opponents, too, like her hat trick against fourth-place Grand Forks.

With the low roster numbers, she gets more ice time. But she’s a talent, too. She’s quick and outworks opponents. She’s learned to finish, as well, and her goalkeeper has noticed.

“She’s got the moves,” senior netminder Syndey Swanson said. “She’s up to date with everything. She makes up moves, she’s got everything.”

Wahlstrom’s seen the short-statured senior progress as a leader, taking bits and pieces of leadership style from the senior classes that have come before her. There haven’t been many tough times in the past eight games, but when it’s needed, she’s the calming effect the coach needs on the ice.

“It makes my job easy,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s like having a fourth coach or having somebody that can lead the team when maybe the girls might be mad at us (coaches). Somebody on the battlegrounds helping out – that field general everybody’s looking for – we have it right there. We’re kind of spoiled to have that.”

Sure enough, she’s spoiled Majettes coaches and fans alike with her scoring output this season. And whether it happens tonight against Mandan or Saturday at Bismarck, or even against West Fargo next Friday, when she amasses six more points, she’ll be a member of Minot’s rare century club.

“It’s pretty big,” Minot senior Alaynee Thompson said. “It shows that she’s got what it takes for all the bigger teams.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.