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Wade Regier reflects on bizarre blizzard game in Jamestown

JAMESTOWN — As of Saturday morning on Jan. 18, the Minot State men’s hockey team was still stuck in Jamestown.

The No. 3-ranked Beavers spent Friday evening playing outside in hazardous winter conditions against the No. 14-ranked University of Jamestown as part of Hockey Day in North Dakota.

The snow-covered ice sheet, and 14-round shootout made for an unbelievable spectacle. But, for the players and coaches, this was far from fun.

The Jimmies took the win, 2-1, but a shootout victory goes into the computer rankings as a tie. A blizzard induced stalemate.

While in the hotel waiting to get the go-ahead to finally leave Jamestown, Minot State head coach Wade Regier took some time to reflect on the once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Minot Daily News.

MDN: In all the games you have coached or played in, where does last night rank?

WR: It was pretty wild. I’m sure there were a few people that thought it was entertaining, it certainly wasn’t fun for the players and the coaching staff. There was just too much snow. It felt like you couldn’t do too much.

They had to stop the game halfway, and they weren’t prepared with shovels. Like the first time they were brought in, it was like three guys with foot-and-half wide shovels. Then they realized they needed to do more than that. So, then they got a guy with a Bobcat (machine) to do something finally. They had a better plan as the day rolled on.

But, yeah, it was wild and kind of a weird game.

Once the game was tied, we were like, ‘OK, the game goes in as a tie computer-wise, doesn’t matter who wins in overtime or a shootout.’ But, they were adamant that we keep going. We did, and it was wild. That’s for sure.

MDN: Do you think there was a point when the game should have been called off or postponed?

WR: Oh, yeah. It should have been postponed even before we came (to Jamestown). We kept hearing, ‘It’s on. It’s on.’ Is there any chance to reschedule? Next week is supposed to be high 20s and all clear. We each play each other in a home-and-home next weekend. Is there any way to make any changes? And they were like, ‘No, no. It’s Hockey Day’ and all this stuff. OK, all right.

We get 20-30 miles outside of Jamestown, and we basically called the (athletic director) and said, ‘Can you maybe book our (hotel) rooms just in case?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, the high school teams all canceled.’ So, they basically moved the whole (Hockey Day in North Dakota) to Monday anyways.

At that point, I was pretty upset like, ‘Why are we here? Why are we playing this when we could have easily rescheduled?’

There were times when you just couldn’t keep up. You’d take the Zamboni, but (the rink) would just fill up with snow even before he would finish doing his thing. That didn’t do us any favors. So, when it got to the third period, we were like, ‘Don’t send the Zamboni, get those guys to start shoveling and try to do it that way.’

MDN: What was it like just standing in the conditions? Did the players get frostbite or anything?

WR: To tell you the truth, the heaters and everything were very good on the benches for pretty much the entire game. But then, probably right around the overtime period, the wind really picked up and started shooting toward our face. Then, the heaters couldn’t keep up.

By the time overtime and then the shootout came around, it was freezing on the bench. Everybody was cold.

It was low 20s, high teens, pretty much the entire game. All you really had to worry about was the snow. But, by overtime and the shootout, it got cold.

MDN: Take me through the shootout and what that experience was like?

WR: At that point, the snow had started to slow down a little bit. So, the ice was a little bit more playable. But, it was a weird deal.

They didn’t scrape the whole ice, which was fine. But, then Rhett Lough goes in there, and his puck slides into the snow. He retrieves it and scores. So, we thought the game was over. It goes in.

That’s not him losing momentum like in a normal shootout. That’s like the puck getting stopped in the snow. It’s not like they went to us and said, ‘As soon as the puck hits the snow on the sides, it’s a dead puck.’

Nothing like that had been said. So, of course, it goes in (and it doesn’t count).

(Goaltender) Holden Kurtz was unbelievable for us. He gave us a chance, and our guys just couldn’t score. You couldn’t deke because there was snow patches all over, so you had to shoot. It’s tough to come in and change your shooting angle.

It is what it is.

Both as a player and as a coach, the most I think it has ever got to was about eight or nine (shootout) rounds. So, to go to 14 rounds was pretty crazy.

MDN: What was the ruling on Lough’s shootout goal that wasn’t allowed?

WR: The rule is, once you lose your momentum, you are done. You can’t stop and start again sort of thing. So, they basically said, which is the truth and is the rule, ‘You can’t stop or change direction. You got to keep moving one way or another.’

But, because the puck had got stuck in the snow, we thought, ‘Well, there is a little bit of leeway here.’ I know we wouldn’t have upset with it. But, it is what it is. He still retrieved the puck, and he still scored.

It wasn’t some spin-o-rama move that he tried to attempt, stopped, restarted or whatever. But, oh well.

The problem was, I think everybody was confused. Everybody in the rink was confused. Just following people on social media, they were confused as well.

MDN: At that point, I assume you guys just wanted to get the game over with?

WR: Absolutely. Even when we thought we had won, we were ready to get out of there. ‘Let’s go. Let’s move.’

When they overturned it and (Jamestown) won, it was them hooting and hollering like they won the Stanley Cup. It was like, geez, you know. It’s an outdoor game which goes in as a tie.

I relayed that (to our team) over and over again. I said, ‘Regardless of what happens in overtime, this is a tie. Just a reminder.’ Even if we win, yes, the Beavers get a win. But, when the rankings and computers add it up, it goes in as a tie. That’s the only nice part.

When we scored to tie it up (in regulation), I was ready to just call it.

But, it is what it was.

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

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