Take everything one game at a time.
It's a coaching cliche as old as the game itself, but its one that Minot High girls hockey coach Weylin Wahlstrom preaches to his team on a regular basis.
If there was ever a time to overemphasize the old cliche, now is it. The third-seeded Majettes play No. 6 seed Fargo South-Davies in the first round of the state tournament tonight at approximately 6:30 at Olympic Arena in Grand Forks. Minot easily won both regular-season meetings this year.
The Minot High girls hockey team is the No. 3 seed at the state tournament, which begins today at 11 a.m. in Grand Forks.
"You prepare for every game," Wahlstrom said. "You never overlook anybody. We're coming into the state tournament not looking at it so much as a tournament, but more as just one game. We're just preparing like we would any other game this season."
The Majettes (18-5) outscored the Bruins 6-1 during the regular season, but that doesn't mean they're already looking at a potential semifinal matchup with West Fargo.
"I don't think we're that overconfident," Minot freshman forward Mackinzy MacIver said. "We just know what we need to do. We know we need to pressure them like we usually do."
The one-game-at-a-time approach has led to an 18-win season and a prime opportunity to advance to the semifinal round. Minot's lack of depth - 14 players - has seldom been an issue and Wahlstrom isn't concerned about playing three games in three days at state.
"After the first round a lot of it is adrenaline and maybe confidence," he said. "We've been preparing the whole season with hard practices all the time. I just hope mentally they're ready for the three games. Last weekend, we had three games in a row and we did a nice job. We have to be ready mentally and physically."
Last weekend, the Magicians defeated Mandan 6-1 at home Thursday before traveling to West Fargo on Friday and Fargo North on Saturday. Minot dropped a 6-0 decision to the Packers before ending the weekend with a 4-0 win against North.
"It's more mental than physical," MacIver said. "You have to tell yourself you are prepared and you are ready to go through the weekend."
To get over the mental hurdle, the Magicians look to their seniors. Forwards Makaila Anderson, Alaynee Thompson and goaltender Sydney Swanson have been integral parts of Minot's success this season. Anderson is the state's second-leading scorer with 58 points (35 goals, 23 assists) and Thompson is 13th with 35 points (22 g, 13 a). Swanson is allowing 1.64 goals per game while stopping 93.4 percent of shots. She has nine shutouts this year.
"From this team, I'm expecting quite a bit," Anderson said. "We're a hard-working team. I'm expecting a really good result because we're really hard-working and we've had a really great season.
"It means quite a bit to me for it being my last (state tournament). It's going to help make my senior year even better."
For Minot's seniors to win a state title in their final season, they have to solve the top two teams in the state: Bismarck and West Fargo. The Magicians are a combined 0-4 against them this season, have been outscored 19-3 and haven't registered a goal against West Fargo.
But the Magicians aren't looking ahead of South-Davies. Minot has plenty of state tournament experience and knows not to overlook anybody.
"That's the one benefit of having a small team: All the girls but one have been to the state tournament and they know what to expect," Wahlstrom said. "It's a matter of letting those nerves out and preparing for the evening game. We have that time to prepare, but sometimes you want to get there and get going."
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23-MDN.