You might find a soccer ball and an Eric Church album inscribed on Minot High forward Matt Flom's holiday wish list.
It's still hockey season - if you can't already tell from the frigid temperatures - and Flom notched the Magicians' first goal for a third straight game and led Minot to a 5-1 win over Mandan on Tuesday at Maysa Arena. The scrappy 5-foot-7, 160-pound junior said a bit of pregame soccer, along with some country music and rock 'n' roll, is paramount to his early-game success.
"We go over with the boys and just hang out, play some soccer," he said, "and then go in the locker room, put on some music and get in the zone."
Minot High senior forward Matt Flom passes during the Magicians’ 5-1 win over Mandan on Tuesday at Maysa Arena.
Flom's been in the zone in back to back games. He followed up his hat trick against Jamestown on Saturday by posting two goals and an assist against the Braves (1-2 overall, 0-2 West Region)
"I think he comes focused to the rink and ready to play," Minot coach Chad Burckhard said. "I don't think that kind of a streak happens by accident. He just comes prepared. His pregame routine that he does must work for him.
"It's a great thing for other guys around him to watch him prepare, so hopefully we can get more guys that are in the same frame of mind when we start."
Flom lit the lamp with a wrister to the top-right corner from 10 feet out 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the contest, giving Minot (2-2, 2-0) a 1-0 advantage at the first intermission.
Mandan junior defenseman Trey Huber tied the game at 5:07 of the second period, but the deadlock lasted barely two minutes.
Minot put together an efficient power-play on the Braves' second penalty for the eventual game-winner. Senior forward Quinn Fuchs - via Daylen Benjamin - sent a cross to classmate Taran Albright, who buried it from just outside the crease 7:18 into the second frame. Sophomore forward Ethan Czaplewski recorded his first varsity goal 18 seconds later, which surged Minot's advantage to 3-1.
Flom chipped in a cross from Fuchs - nearly identical to Albright's goal - early in the third stanza.
"Once I got the puck, I was looking to cross ice," said Fuchs, who leads Minot with 12 points (5 g, 7 a) this year. "They seemed to be leaving that back-door guy open, so I just threw it across ice and hoped that our guy could finish."
Fuchs put away Minot's final goal off a slick pass from Flom, ballooning the Magi lead to four with just under 11 minutes remaining.
Minot junior goaltender Breydan Effertz turned away 27 of 28 Mandan shots for his second straight victory.
The Magicians bombarded Mandan goaltender Sawyer Schmidt with 43 shots, 32 of which came after the first period. Burckhard said he saw marked improvement over the final 34 minutes.
"I thought early in the game we were trying to be too pretty and too cute," he said. "We just finally started shooting pucks and getting people to the net and looking for traffic. We made it a lot harder for the goaltender to see pucks in the second and third period."
Minot travels to play Century (3-0-1, 2-0-0) on Thursday. After opening the season with consecutive late-goal losses, the Magicians are back to .500 - moving in the right direction.
"Obviously it's early in the season and there's a lot of things we need to get better at," Burckhard said, "but we're finding our way and we're finding our identitiy as a hockey team."
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.