A missed opportunity

The Minot High girls hockey team entered Friday’s contest with the opportunity to leapfrog both West Fargo and Grand Forks and take sole possession of second place in the standings with a win.

Instead, the Majettes remain in the fourth position for another day after suffering a 3-0 setback to West Fargo at Maysa Arena.

It was Minot’s second loss this month after posting an undefeated January and the first game all year the Majettes have failed to record a goal. Minot struggled to establish any momentum and finished with only 17 shots.

“It’s disappointing anytime you don’t get a goal,” Minot coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. “They did a nice job of getting rid of the rebounds and we did a poor job of trying to stick them in the back of the net. Hats off to West Fargo, they’re a good team, but we could have made it a better game.”

Deadlocked midway through the first period, the Packers (13-5-1 overall, 11-2-1 state) broke through on a goal by junior forward Madison Nelson at 9:21. Nelson’s goal was set up by West Fargo’s Paige Lazorenko, who was credited with the assist on the only goal of the first period.

Lazorenko find some open ice in the slot and blasted a shot on Minot senior goaltender Sydney Swanson, who made the save but couldn’t corral the puck. The rebound found Nelson’s stick in front of the net and the West Fargo forward beat Swanson stick side to give the Packers a 1-0 advantage.

“They work really hard so we had to work hard to keep up with them,” Minot freshman defender Cambree Albright said. “They skate hard so we had to win the races to the corners. If we weren’t moving then it really showed.”

The Packers added to their lead with a power-play goal at 8:24 of the second period. West Fargo’s first two attempts with the extra skater were unsuccessful, but it broke through on its third try.

The Packers went on the power play after MHS sophomore defender Alissa Ewan was whistled for tripping and they lit the lamp just five seconds before the penalty expired. A slew of West Fargo skaters took whacks at a loose puck in the crease before Allison Springer slid the puck past the goal line.

“That hunger Minot usually has, we just didn’t have it today and I don’t know what the reason is,” Wahlstrom said. “Coming into this game, we knew it was a big game. I don’t think it was nerves. We have this West Fargo, east-side mentality and I don’t think we need to. We can play with this team, we just have to do those little things that they were doing.”

The Majettes (15-4, 12-4) couldn’t generate any offense on their power play. Heavy pressure up and down the ice from the Packers led to a flurry of turnovers in the neutral and offensive zones. Minot’s best chance to get on the board came with 11 minutes left when it had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:47. But the Majettes were penalized for having to many skaters on the ice 32 seconds later.

“It didn’t matter how many girls they had on the ice, they were taking advantage of loose pucks and we were losing all the races,” Wahlstrom said. “We just weren’t moving like we normally do.”

West Fargo tacked on an insurance goal with 5:23 remaining to make it 3-0. Janey Sandoval knocked home a rebound glove side to seal the Packers’ victory. All three of West Fargo’s goals were the result of crashing the net.

“We knew with the goalie that they have, you’re not going to get easy goals, so you’re going to have to work for them and that’s what we did,” West Fargo coach Pat Johnson said. “We wanted to get to the net and create some chaos.”

The teams play each other again Friday in West Fargo, but first the Majettes host Fargo North today at 2 p.m. at Maysa Arena.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.