GRAND FORKS Tears of jubilation after Thursday's overtime victory were replaced by tears of frustration and disappointment Friday in the Minot High boys hockey team's locker room following a 4-1 loss to Grand Forks Central in the state tournament semifinals at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Playing in their first semifinal game since 1992, the Magicians were outshot 37-15 and couldn't solve Central's stingy defenseman. Minot fell to 4-39 lifetime against the Knights and plays West Fargo in the third-place game today at approximately 1:30 p.m.
"That's about as poorly as we've played all season," Minot coach Chad Burckhard said. "The first period we started OK, but we weren't getting any pucks. It always seemed like we were a half- step ahead of the puck and on the wrong side it. As the period went, it went downhill for us."
Central's Casey Johnson gave the Knights their only lead of the game with 11:18 left on a slap shot from the slot. After a scrum to the right of Minot junior goalie Breydan Effertz, the puck came out to Johnson, who had an empty lane to fire a shot over the Minot netminder's stick-side shoulder.
Prior to Johnson's marker, Central's Ryan Griggs had a breakaway attempt, but was denied by Effertz. The Magicians weren't able to clear the puck out of the zone, allowing the Knights to take their first lead on their 31st shot of the contest. Griggs didn't miss on a breakaway in the final minutes, ending Minot's title hopes with the first of two empty-netters with 1:29 left.
"You work your whole life to get yourself to this position and we just ran into a buzzsaw," Burckhard said. "I give a lot of credit to Central. We didn't' get off the bus very well today."
The Knights heavily outshot the Magicians in the first period, but it was Minot that tallied the only goal of the frame. Senior forward Quinn Fuchs put the Magicians in front with 5:59 remaining in the opening period with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Central goaltender Taner Bender over his glove-side shoulder. Sophomore forward Logan Bischof was credited with the assist.
After dominating the shot chart for the first half of the contest, the Knights finally got a puck past Effertz. Kaden Monette, who netted the game-winning goal in overtime the last time these teams met back in November, drew Central even at 5:52 of the second period on the power play.
Monette took control of the puck in the neutral zone and caught Minot junior defenseman Garrett Picard flat-footed at the blue line. The Central senior forward maneuvered by Picard and placed a shot over Effertz's glove-side shoulder in a similar fashion as Minot's first goal.
"They were good," Burckhard said. "Their defensive core is as good as any defensive core in the state. We had a heck of a time getting anything going. We're a pretty good offensive team and we just couldn't generate anything."
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft_MDN.