State bantam hockey tournaments underway at Maysa Arena

Justin Martinez/MDN Bismarck’s Ryan Keup (right) beats his defender to the puck on Friday during the Capitals’ semifinals matchup with the Grand Forks Wheatkings in the Bantam A State tournament at the Maysa Arena.

Twenty-five youth hockey teams took to the ice at Maysa Arena on Friday in the opening day of the 2019 NDAHA State Bantam tournaments. After months of preparation, four classes (AA, A, B Gold and B Silver), each with their own bracket, began their journey to crowning their respective champion.

The tournaments are scheduled to run from Friday to Sunday.

“This tournament is what these players and coaches have worked all year for.” Minot Hockey Boosters Director Brian Bauman said in a press release. “We appreciate the chance to make it a memorable experience for the players, coaches and fans.”

Here’s a look at how Day 1 played out:

Bantam AA

Justin Martinez/MDN Connor Holm (left) races down the ice as Grafton PR’s Colby Peschong (right) closes in during the Fargo Freezes’ quarterfinals game against the North Stars on Friday in the Bantam A State tournament at the Maysa Arena.

With just three teams in the AA bracket, each team is scheduled to play its fellow two competitors once across the two-day tournament to determine a champion. A win is worth two points, a tie earns one point and a loss yields no points. Tie-breakers are determined by head-to-head results.

The only AA matchup on Friday was between the Minot Wolves and the Grand Forks Aviators. The Aviators emerged victorious, 5-2, and earned themselves two points. The Fargo Freeze, who didn’t play on Friday, will take on Minot today at 1:30 p.m. and Grand Forks later at 7:30 p.m to round out the tournament.

Bantam A

The first two rounds of the Bantam A tournament were played on Friday as all 11 teams faced off for the four available semifinal spots.

The Grand Forks Wheatkings were first to punch their ticket to the semifinals. After getting a first-round bye, the team earned a 3-1 win over the Bismarck Capitals (White) in the quarterfinals.

The Wheatkings will face the Grand Forks Sugarkings today at 5:30 p.m. for a spot in the championship. The Sugarkings also had a first-round bye and defeated the West Fargo Stampede in the quarterfinals by a score of 2-1.

Also advancing to the semifinals were the Fargo Freeze (Black), who had a first-round bye and defeated the Grafton/PR North Stars in the semifinals by a score of 8-3. The Freeze will face the JVC Prowl today at 7:15 p.m. to see who advances to the championship game.

The Prowl reached the semifinals the hard way, as they didn’t have a first-round bye. Instead, JVC defeated the Mayport Icedawgs by a score of 5-3 in the opening round and followed that up with a 7-3 win over the Fargo Angels (Red) in the quarterfinals.

Bantam Gold

Similar to the AA field, only three teams competed in the Bantam Gold tournament.

The only game played Friday was between the Rugby Icehawks and the Crosby Comets, where the Icehawks earned two points with a 3-1 win. The Langdon Blades, who didn’t play on Friday, will face Crosby today at 11:30 a.m. and Rugby later at 5:15 p.m.

Bantam Silver

The silver bracket narrowed its field from eight to four, as teams faced off for a spot in the semifinals.

In the top half of the bracket, the JVC Prowl bested the Dickinson Outlaws (Orange) by a score of 4-2. The Prowl advance to a semifinals date with Northwood today at 3:30 p.m. The Ice Storm earned their spot in the next round with a 6-4 quarterfinals win over the Richland Rangers.

In the bottom half of the bracket, the Bismarck Capitals (Red) outlasted the Fargo Freeze (Gold) in a thrilling 5-4 overtime win. With the victory, the Capitals will face the Fargo Freeze (Maroon) today at 3:15 p.m. The Freeze defeated the Hazen-Beulah North Stars by a score of 4-1 to reach the semifinals.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.