The Minot High School girls hockey team nearly pulled off an improbable comeback Saturday, scoring two late goals before falling in a 4-3 loss to Grand Forks at Maysa Arena.
The Knightriders led by three goals late in the third period before having to stave off a furious comeback in the finals minutes to complete the season sweep of the Majettes.
"We knew it was going to be a battle and we came out and battled," MHS coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. "It was a close game. It was a lot closer here than it was (in Grand Forks). We're happy with our improvements and we had some chances to win the game. We fought back right until the final buzzer."
MHS freshman forward Taylor Hooker skates with the puck as Grand Forks’ Nicole Novak closes in on defense.
Less than 24 hours after recording 69 shots on goal, the Majettes (7-8 overall, 6-7 region) found themselves on the opposite end of a lopsided shot total. Grand Forks (10-5, 9-2) spent the majority of the contest in Minot's defensive zone, keeping junior goaltender Sydney Swanson busy. Swanson - who faced just seven shots Friday - dealt with 56 shots, finishing with 52 saves.
"I thought we did really well," Swanson said. "We just have to keep going and put our hearts into it and we should be fine. It's a way better performance than our previous game against (Grand Forks)."
Said Wahlstrom: "She played tremendous. She made a lot of big saves for us. She was seeing the puck well. She was moving side to side. She did what we needed her to do and she was controlling her rebounds."
Grand Forks' Brittany Becker gave the Knightriders the early lead at one minutes, 30 seconds of the first period. Becker received a pass from her sister, Ashley Becker, and beat Swanson for the one-goal advantage.
But the Majettes fought back and tied the game on senior forward Jessie Kongelf's power-play goal at 5:51 of the first period. Kongelf's goal was her fourth in two games after recording a hat trick against Devils Lake. It was also the first goal the Majettes had scored against Grand Forks this season. Minot was shut out 6-0 in its first meeting with the Knightriders.
The Knightriders controlled the second period, keeping the puck in Minot's defensive zone and getting quality scoring chances on Swanson and the Majettes. Leading 2-1 to open the middle frame, Grand Forks netted two more goals to build a 4-1 advantage heading into the second intermission.
Senior defender Kjerstin Hoberg tallied the Knightriders' first goal of the second period off a rebound in front of the net. Junior defender Shelby Brossart scored three minutes later, skating the puck the length of the ice before firing a wrist shot past Swanson.
The game appeared over after Minot senior defender Alexandra Harrom was called for tripping with less than five minutes to play in the third period.
But senior forward Angie Lothspeich gave Minot life with a short-handed goal with 3:38 to play, followed by her second tally with 1:36 remaining to cut the deficit to one.
"After we scored our second goal we definitely got a big confidence boost," Lothspeich said. "We definitely gained a lot of confidence and hopefully we go into the next game the same way."
The Majettes caught a break between Lothspeich's goals to keep the Majettes alive. An apparent goal by Grand Forks was waved off by the official after he determined both the net was off its moorings and the puck had been kicked in.
Minot pulled Swanson in the final minute for the extra skater, but never had a quality chance to tie the game.
The Majettes travel to Jamestown on Friday.