GRAND FORKS Twenty-two years of first-round futility at the state tournament is over.
The Minot High boys hockey team hadn't won an opening-round game since 1992 and one shot from senior forward Hayden Schwarz ended that drought Thursday.
With senior forward Quinn Fuchs skating down the opposite side of the ice on a short-handed 2-on-1, Schwarz decided to keep it himself and wristed a shot over the shoulder of Grand Forks Red River goaltender Jon DeBeitz to give the Magicians a 5-4 victory in overtime at Ralph Engelstad Arena. It was Schwarz's second goal of the game.
Minot senior forward Jersey Kelly and Red River's Cody Kuntz skate after a loose puck Thursday in the first round of the state tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.
"As much as I wanted to pass the puck to Quinn, I knew the way (Red River goaltender Jon DeBeltz) played it I had to take a shot," Schwarz said. "Coach told me my chance was coming and it was a good one."
The contest was worth the primetime slot as it featured four ties and two lead changes, with neither team leading by more than a goal. Minot had a chance to win in the final minutes after Red River's Micah Kwiatkoski was whistled for a five-minute major for checking from behind, leaving the Roughriders down a man for the remainder of regulation and 1:14 into overtime.
When the Magicians couldn't take advantage of the extended power play, Minot coach Chad Burckhard began to think his team's chances of winning a first-round game had waned.
"We were in trouble," he said. "We sold the farm in that last minute of the third and the first minute of overtime. We mixed and matched guys from three different lines. Coming out of that power play, we were in a little bit of trouble. We had a forward stuck on defense and Red River had us pinned in our own end. We were fortunate to get it out of our own end."
To make matters worse, Minot's Carter Bechtold took an interference penalty less than two minutes after Red River returned to full strength. But Schwarz bailed out the Magicians, who will play Grand Forks Central in the semifinals tonight at approximately 8:30.
"It means a lot," Schwarz said of the win. "It's been 22 years. Coaches are in the locker room crying, former players coming in. It's a great feeling to win, but we have more work to do."
Said Burckhard: "It feels good to us as alumni. It was a humbling win. The power play was atrocious at times tonight. You get a five-minute major with four minutes(left) in a state tournament, you have to win that game on the power play. Special teams are always a key - that you score on the power play - but we will definitely take the shorty tonight."
Schwarz gave Minot a 4-3 lead with 6:27 remaining in regulation on a breakaway just 10 seconds after Red River's Jordan Lunski tied the contest. Minot's lead was short-lived as Sam Bye drew the Roughriders even once again with 4:05 left. Bye wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle that hit off the inside of the far-side post before deflecting in.
The rest of the game was just as back-and-forth. Minot sophomore forward Logan Bischof gave the Magicians their first lead of the game in the first minutes of the third period. That was the only shot Red River goaltender Aaron Sauve faced in the third period before leaving with an upper-body injury. Sauve was replaced by Jon DeBeltz.
Minot managed just 16 shots on net three in the first period. Minot junior forward Matt Flom put the Magicians on the scoreboard at 1:18 of the second to tie the game at 1.
After the Roughriders reclaimed the lead eight seconds later, senior forward Jersey Kelly pulled Minot even at 10:23 of the second period. The teams were tied 2-2 at the second intermission.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.