When it's your night, it's simply your night. Such was the case for theMinot High boys hockey team against Century in the West Region tournament semifinals on Friday at All Seasons Arena.
The puck seemed to bounce in favor of the hometown Magicians all evening and they capitalized on their opportunities, burying the Patriots 6-1 in the process.
Minot clinched a spot in the state tournament and advanced to the region championship game against Bismarck today at 4 p.m. The Magicians' state tournament appearance is their four straight and 32nd overall.
Minot High junior forward Matt Flom skates between Century’s Grant Dockter (3) and Tristan Stewart (12) in the West Region semifinals on Saturday at Maysa Arena.
In a rematch of last year's region title game - won by Century - the Magicians captured momentum early and had the Patriots playing from behind all game. Minot tallied the first five goals of the contest before Century (18-5) got on the board in the final minutes of the second period.
"They came prepared to play and you have to give credit to the kids," Minot coach Chad Burckhard said. "They're the ones that put the body of work in. They learn from their trials and tribulations from the season and it was nice to see the team finish."
It took the Magicians one period to match their scoring output from the previous night against Mandan. Minot struck at 4:25 of the first period on an impossible-angle goal by Quinn Fuchs. Along the end boards to the right of Century goaltender Jack Abfalter, Fuchs fired a shot that ricocheted off the netminder's back and into the net.
Minot added to its lead with 3:52 left in the opening period on a tally by senior forward Daylen Benjamin off a centering pass from senior defenseman Taran Albright. Albright found Benjamin in front of the net with a pass through traffic from the far-side boards and the Magicians led 2-0 at the first intermission.
"We knew that we needed to jump on them early," Fuchs said. "Once we could wear them down early, we could take care of them with the lead."
By the time the second period ended, the Patriots could feel it wasn't their night. Minot lit the lamp three times in the middle stanza and chased Abfalter with 7:14 left to go in the frame.
Minot junior forward Matt Flom scored twice in the second period - the latter ending Abfalter's night. Flom's first came short-handed and was the result of a fortuitous break in the Magicians' favor. Century's Cole Foss broke his stick on an attempted slap shot, resulting in a 2-on-1 the other way with Fuchs and Flom. Fuchs hit Flom at the blue line and the junior forward skated in on net and beat Abfalter stick side.
"I give credit to Minot for a lot of things they did," Century coach Troy Olson said. ""When you get into a hole like that it's tough. Bottom line, I don't think our effort was there and I don't think we were doing the things necessary - the little things we preach to the guys."
Minot sophomore forward Logan Bischof tallied a hard-fought marker in between Flom's two goals with 7:14 left in the second period. Bischof's initial shot from the slot sailed wide of the net, but he corralled the puck off the end boards, circled around the net and slipped it by Abfalter glove side.
"We have depth on this hockey team," Burckhard said. "Maybe more depth than we get credit for at times and we played four lines most of the night. We were able to keep coming at them early and often."
The goal support was more than enough for Minot junior goaltender Breydan Effertz, who almost broke his own tournament record for most consecutive shutout minutes. Before Century's Byrne Curl netted his team's only tally of the game with 1:22 left in the second, Effertz hadn't allowed a goal in 83:34, just shy of the 87:36 mark he set last year. Effertz finished with 28 saves.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.