Buchholz’s hat trick lifts undefeated Eagles over Magi hockey

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot High senior Blake Nelson (36) loses a faceoff to Fargo Davies senior Griffin Hart (8) in a boys hockey game played Saturday afternoon at Maysa Arena.

Forcing the action and being at the right place at the right time, Fargo Davies senior forward Jay Buchholz scored a goal in every period to lead the Eagles to a 4-1 road victory over the Minot High School boys hockey team Saturday afternoon at Maysa Arena.

The Magicians (6-7-1, 5-2-0 West Region) held their own, but couldn’t crack the unbeaten Eagles (10-0-2, 7-0-2 East Region) in the nonconference contest.

“We were good for parts of the game, but we didn’t capitalize on the power plays and that’s probably the difference in the game,” MHS co-head coach John Grubb said. “We knew they were a really good hockey team coming in and I thought our kids played with them during parts of the game. But, the (power play) was clearly where they were the better team.”

The Magi went to the power play 30 seconds into the game after a hooking penalty was committed by Devon Kelly. Yet, it was the Eagles that scored on their man-advantage midway through the opening period.

Fargo Davies sophomore defenseman Tyler Kleven used the Minot defender in front of him as a screen to beat MHS goaltender Odin Nelson to the near post. It was only the Eagles third shot on goal, coming 7 minutes and 41 seconds into the first period. Minot only registered three shots on goal in the period.

Nelson and Kelly collided a couple minutes after the Kleven goal, as Nelson went into aggressive goalie mode to break up a potential breakaway opportunity. Both players skated off the hard knock and stayed in the game.

With 3:09 left in the first period, the Eagles went up 2-0 on a shot by sophomore Cade Stibbe that ricocheted off the glass behind the goal and found Buchholz on the other side of the net for a simple tap-in.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Grubb said about Minot’s defensive effort. “That’s an undefeated team and we kept them under 30 shots. The kids blocked shots. We are proud of that part, but we can’t let them have some of those easy ones.”

Minot had four power play opportunities in the second period. But, again, it was the Eagles that extended their lead out to 3-0 with an unassisted short-handed breakaway goal, which was started and finished by Buchholz for his second goal of the game.

“I think we want to hold the puck too much and not get to the middle (of the ice) and shoot the puck,” Grubb said about the Magi’s power play woes. “Get the puck to the middle, get to the net and that starts to open up passing lanes. Then, you can start looking cross-ice. We just aren’t there yet.”

A game-ejecting check from behind by Eagles’ Briar Sylvester in the final minute of the second period gave the Magi some life. On the ensuing five-minute continuous power play, junior Kyler Stenberg trickled the puck past Fargo Davies senior goaltender Kaden Oldham for Minot’s lone goal.

Oldham was starting in his second game this season, stepping in for the junior regular Jared Winter.

“We are still not good enough in the two hard areas in our own zone, in front of the net, and we aren’t good enough at getting to the middle in the offensive zone,” Grubb said. “Until we are better at that, we are not going to score a lot of goals.”

Over four minutes of power play time carried over into the third period. Minot tried to keep the pressure on, but couldn’t cut into the two-goal deficit. Instead, a MHS high sticking penalty ended its 5-on-4 power play opportunity with a minute and a half voided on the Eagles’ major penalty.

Buchholz created a turnover at Minot’s blue line and raced down to the other end of the ice for an empty net goal to seal his hat trick with 48 seconds remaining. It was his ninth goal and team-high 26th point of the season.

Minot was outshot 28-17 in the contest.

“We gave up more shots to Jamestown then we did Davies,” Grubb said. Minot defeated the Blue Jays 5-1 on Friday while giving up 32 shots on goal. “Davies is clearly a better hockey team, so it showed we did pick up our level of play a little bit and that’s good going into next week.”

The Magi conclude their current four-game homestand with a pair of games against the Bismarck schools next week. Minot will host Century on Tuesday and then Bismarck High on Thursday at Maysa Arena. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.