The Minot High School boys hockey team was just 17 minutes away from its first West Region title since 2006, but by the time the final buzzer had sounded, the Magicians were in no mood to celebrate.
Instead, it was Bismarck Century enjoying the post-game satisfaction that comes with winning the region championship. The Patriots scored three times in the third period and defeated Minot 4-2 on Saturday at All Seasons Arena.
"We have to forget about it as quick as possible," MHS coach Chad Burckhard said. "The ultimate goal was accomplished this weekend with a berth to the state tournament."
Minot High School senior defenseman Morgen Martelle, right, goes after a loose puck as Century’s Mason Przybilla attempts to slow him down during the West Region tournament championship on Saturday at All Seasons Arena.
Minot trailed for the first time in 131 minutes, 40 seconds of tournament play when Century's Christopher Brown scored off a Magicians turnover in Minot's defensive zone. Century's Keaton Leininger took control of the puck to the left of Minot goaltender Breydan Effertz and connected with Brown on a cross-ice pass for the one-timer at 12:40 of the second period.
The Magicians took Century's punch and countered with two of their own. Junior defenseman Taran Albright tied the game on the power play at 14:49 of the middle frame with a perfectly-placed slap shot from the point. Albright's shot split the small gap between Century goaltender Jack Abfalter's stick-side shoulder and the crossbar.
Special teams continued to be favorable for the Magicians, who tallied a short-handed goal two minutes later when junior forward Hayden Schwarz wristed a shot top shelf over Abfalter's glove side.
"You don't want to get behind in a hockey game, but we've proven over the last few weeks that we can play hockey and not get too rattled," Century coach Troy Olson said. "Credit the seniors. The bench stays calm. We stuck to what we were doing because we were playing pretty well."
A shot off the crossbar by Century's Alec Rauhauser early in the third period was a sign of things to come for the Patriots. After a number of quality chances to tie the game, Century broke through at the eight-minute mark on Brown's second goal of the game.
The Patriots completed the comeback with 6:31 remaining in regulation on a perfectly-executed deflection by Rauhauser. Leininger found a streaking Rauhauser with a pass from the blue line that the senior forward redirected into the upper right corner of the net.
"When you lose a game here, you can't let it burn until next week," Burckhard said. "You got to forget it from your memory and prepare for the state tournament."
The Magicians will be the No. 2 seed from the West in the state tournament and play No. 3 seed Fargo Davies from the East on Thursday in Grand Forks.
"Yeah we lost and it hurts to lose, but now we have to focus on state because that's the main goal," MHS senior defenseman Morgen Martelle said.
B-R's season ends
in loss to
The Bottineau-Rugby boys hockey team was unable to break Bismarck High's streak of 23 consecutive state appearances, falling to the Demons 3-1in a West Region tournament state qualifier Saturday at All Seasons Arena.
"I told them that I'm really proud of the way these guys played all year," B-R coach David Hoff said. "We have 13 players and I told them we're 13 strong. We needed a bounce or something, but we just couldn't get that one to slip through."
The loss ends the Braves' season and denies them their first back-to-back state tournament berth since the 1992-93 seasons.
The Braves took advantage of Bismarck's tired legs early in the first period. Luke Amsbaugh got B-R on the board two minutes, 37 seconds into the contest. The opening faceoff came roughly 16 hours after a physical matchup with rival Minot High.
Amsbaugh's tally seemed to awaken the Demons as they countered just 16 seconds later on a goal by Bryce Nybo to tie the game.
The Braves had several quality scoring opportunities throughout the game, but couldn't solve Bismarck goaltender Brett Malkmus, who finished with 30 saves. Malkmus kept the Braves off the scoreboard for the final 48:23.
"When you play another really good team we always tell the guys 'You have to give some punches and take some punches,' " Hoff said. "We tried to respond, but (Bismarck) made the plays they had to on the defensive side."
Bismarck's Michael Matzke broke the tie at 6:30 of the second period before Brandon Gieszler added a power-play goal in the third.