Minot's legs appeared tired after one period, exhausted after the second and in need of an ice bath by the time the final seconds mercifully ticked off the Maysa Arena scoreboard Monday evening.
The Majettes' 6-1 loss to Bismarck felt like an eternal penalty kill.
They battled an impossible numbers game, skating a full line less than the defending state champion Blizzard (6-0).
Minot High freshman Mackinzy MacIver fends off Bismarck’s Britta Curl (21) and Jessie Binstock while skating for a loose puck Monday at Maysa Arena.
Bismarck's speed and depth wore down Minot (5-2) as the Blizzard netted five of their six goals after the first intermission. They are winners of nine straight dating back to last season and have bested the Majettes four straight times.
"Fortunately for us, we have a few more bodies than they do," Bismarck coach Annie Cashman said. "We really worked on trying to make Minot go 200 feet to score a goal. We thought when we didn't have numbers coming through the neutral zone, we were just gonna dump the puck and go chase it. We felt like we were a little bit faster than their defensemen."
Minot combated the speedy Blizzard well for most of the first period, save for a misplay that put the Majettes behind 1-0 after one frame.
Bismarck senior Gretta Gilje raced past a Minot defender and beat goalkeeper Sydney Swanson stick-side top shelf with a slick backhand.
Minot killed two penalties in the first frame and held even in shots on goal with eight. The Majettes tested Bismarck netminder Kennedy Blair with two point-blank shots during their opening possession, but had no one in place for a second-chance opportunity - something they did well during their past four games, all wins.
"(Blair) does a nice job of keeping her rebounds close, so if you don't have somebody in there, you're not gonna get an opportunity to bang it in," Minot coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. "We just didn't have that second girl to go in hard and up to the net."
Bismarck's Anne Dickson and Sage Barta lit the lamp 27 seconds apart to bulge the lead to 3-0 at 2 minutes, 10 seconds of the second stanza.
"We attacked in the first period," Wahlstrom said. "Second period, we had signs of attacking, but for the most part we were back on our heels.
"When you give a team like Bismarck a chance to move the puck and move their feet, they're gonna take advantage of it. We just didn't pressure them like we should, and it showed."
Minot senior forward Makaila Anderson trimmed Bismarck's lead to 3-1 at 11:55 of the second. She zoomed toward net on a two-on-one with linemate Skylar Sattler, deked the Blizzard defender and finished top shelf for her 10th goal of the year.
Fatigue spread through the Majettes in the third period as Dickson completed a hat trick and Katie German added a goal for good measure.
Bismarck blasted 26 more shots than Minot over the final two periods to finish with a 41-15 advantage.
"They were quick," Anderson said. "By the end we lost hope, we just gave up. They have good speed and we stuck with them that first period. We just gave up."
Wahlstrom said fatigue and low roster numbers can't be justifications for the loss. The Majettes will play at a numbers disadvantage in almost every game the remainder of the year.
"I know a lot of people are going to talk about that and stuff, but you know what, we don't have a full bench so we can't make excuses," Wahlstrom said. "I guess the only thing we can say is we have to fight through things like that."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.