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Magi hockey finds success after sizzling start

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot High players celebrate after scoring a goal in the first period of Saturday's game against Dickinson. The Magicians took a 5-3 victory over the Midgets.

The Minot High School boys hockey team wasn’t satisfied with one conference win this week. After defeating Bismarck Century 2-1 on Tuesday, the Magicians stayed hungry for more.

Minot (4-0, 3-0 WDA) kept its undefeated season alive with a solid 5-3 win over Dickinson (0-5, 0-5 WDA) on Saturday night. The Magi’s three first-period goals paved the path to victory.

“So far, we’re finding a way to get it done,” Minot co-head coach John Grubb said. “We probably didn’t have our best game tonight. That’s what we told the kids. That’s going to happen over the course of the season. Finding a way to get the win and keep moving yourself up the standings; that’s the key. Tonight, they found a way to get it done. Pretty or not, we ended up on the right side of the column.”

Minot scored in bunches, and sophomore forward Zach Diehl struck first. Diehl’s point proved to be quite special — his first-period tally marked his first varsity goal.

After junior defenseman Riley Opperude and senior forward Nicholas Murphy assisted on Diehl’s goal, Opperude wanted in on the fun. He sniped a power-play shot into the back of the net after 15 minutes had elapsed in the first period.

“I just got in a good spot and buried it,” Opperude said.

Murphy and junior forward Aiden Morelli assisted on Opperude’s goal. Just 35 seconds later, senior forward Jack Plemel put the Magi up 3-0 after senior defenseman Josh Drady’s assist.

Although the Midgets found themselves in a hole, Dickinson junior forward Landon Aman responded with a second-period goal.

“As we’re starting out early in the season here, we have to learn to keep (pressure) on,” Grubb said. “Stay on top of it. Not be happy with where we’re at. We’re up 3-0 at the end of the first period, but you need to come out ready to play in the second. I thought Dickinson came hard the whole game. They kept battling, and maybe we took our foot off the pedal.”

Murphy’s unselfishness helped Minot score two goals in the first period, but he received help from Morelli and senior forward Payton Philion on his goal just over two minutes later. If a fan blinked, he or she probably missed Minot’s next goal.

Twenty-nine seconds after Murphy’s strike, junior forward Derwin Hauser buried a shot. Junior forward Casey Fjeld and junior defenseman Jacob Theis provided the assists on Hauser’s goal.

“We’re learning to work together and work harder,” Opperude said. “We’ve learned that we’re a really good team. We have a chance to do something special.”

Dickinson did not go down without a fight. Trailing 5-1 at the third period’s onset, Dickinson sophomore forward Evan Groll scored just 3:36 into the frame.

Both teams battled to a standstill for some time, but Dickinson senior forward Brayden Urlacher scored an unassisted goal with 31 seconds to play. Even still, Urlacher’s goal came too late.

After the win, the Magi hollered in the locker room. Diehl’s first varsity goal was the focal point of their enjoyment.

“It’s the best thing I could ask for, to play with these guys,” Opperude said. “We’ve been playing together since we were young. Just to do it now, it’s amazing.”

The Magi will put their undefeated record on the line at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17. Minot will clash with WDA rival Bismarck High (4-2, 4-0 WDA) at Maysa Arena.

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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