Flipping the script
Two weeks removed from its worst loss of the season, the Minot High boys hockey team still had a sour taste in its mouth from its first meeting with West Region rival Bottineau-Rugby.
In that contest in Bottineau, the Braves shredded Minot’s defense for nine goals, chased MHS starting goaltender Breydan Effertz and recorded 42 shots.
Thursday’s contest at Maysa Arena mirrored the first meeting, only with the roles reversed. The Magicians netted seven goals, peppered Bottineau goaltender Riley Monson with 42 shots and kept the top two scorers in the state in check in a 7-3 victory against the Braves.
“We just simply played better,” MHS coach Chad Burckhard said. “I give a lot of credit to our kids, they worked and they competed and they battled and they made Bottineau earn every inch of ice tonight.”
The win not only avenged the 9-6 loss on Jan. 20, but clinched the No. 2 seed in the region tournament for the Magicians. Bismarck is the top seed. Just as sweet, the victory was the proper send-off for the seven seniors playing their final game at Maysa Arena in a Minot sweater.
The Magicians (14-6-1 overall, 11-3 region) wasted no time setting the tone as they scored 2:51 into the game on the first of two miscues by Monson. The first came when he tried to trap a moving puck with his glove but whiffed, allowing MHS junior forward Brent Williams an empty net to shoot at and give the Magicians the early lead.
The second error came five minutes later when Monson tried to outskate MHS junior forward Matt Flom to a loose puck in an attempt to stop a breakaway. Flom won the battle and netted Minot’s second gimme of the contest.
Bottineau’s Cody Bedlion scored in between Minot’s first two goals. Bedlion’s tally – a slap shot from the slot that beat Effertz stick side – came just 44 seconds after Williams’ lamp-lighter.
MHS senior forward Hayden Schwarz gave the Magicians a 3-1 lead 32 seconds after Flom put them in front for the second time in the first 7:52.
The Magicians matched their scoring output from the previous meeting with the Braves (12-7, 9-4) in the first 22:02 on Thursday as they added three more goals in the second period. MHS senior forward Jersey Kelly scored the first two for the home team with a tally by Bottineau’s Luke Amsbaugh in between.
Kelly’s first came off a rebound when he spun around and blindly fired a shot on net that beat Monson stick side. The second – a wrist shot from the slot – deflected off a Braves skater in front to give Minot a 5-2 lead with 7:28 left in the second period. The Magicians led 6-3 at the second intermission.
“The first one I saw the puck and I kind of just turned around and shot it,” Kelly said. “I kinda knew where the net was, but I didn’t expect that one to go in.”
Senior forward Quinn Fuchs added Minot’s seventh goal of the contest at 5:53 of the third period and Effertz and the defense shut down Bottineau’s high-octane offense the rest of the way.
“I just had to stay focused and be ready for anything,” Effertz said. “It’s a big redemption game. We look forward to these game all year. Bottineau’s a big rival.”
Effertz finished with 19 saves and held the Braves scoreless in the third period.
“They kind of turned the table on us,” Bottineau coach David Hoff said. “They were really good in the defensive zone, limiting opportunities. We didn’t get a lot of great opportunities, but when we did I thought Effertz was really good tonight.”
Minot didn’t allow Amsbaugh and senior forward Harrison Aide to torch its defense for the second straight meeting. Aide – the state scoring leader with 79 points on 45 goals and 34 assists – was held without a point.
“We paid attention to where he was and you have to do that,” Burckhard said. “You can’t leave him open like we did in Bottineau. We were just accountable for him.”
Amsbaugh – second in scoring with 71 points – finished with a goal and two assists. The two combined for seven goals and five assists the previous meeting.
“You have to play more of a contact game on them,” Kelly said. “Trap them, take them to the outside and don’t let them dangle around you.”
The Magicians limited the Braves to 22 shots.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.