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No. 4 MSU men’s hockey thumps Williston State, 11-1

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State forward Braden Billaney (81) bodies off a Williston State defender Saturday evening at Maysa Arena in Minot.

Spectators that wanted to see goals weren’t disappointed Saturday evening at Maysa Arena.

The No. 4-ranked Minot State men’s hockey team skated circles around the Williston State Tetons, an ACHA Division II in-state opponent, en route to an 11-1 win.

Coming into the contest, MSU (23-4-3) had outscored Williston State (9-24-1) by 21 goals, 22-1, across two previous blowouts this season.

So, Saturday’s result merely kept the status quo.

“They are ranked lower and in a different division than us, so we kind of knew this was coming,” said forward Riley Vautour, who scored a hat trick. “But, 11 goals is still a lot of goals.”

Winning by such a large margin does pose the challenge of not getting complacent.

“There are still things we need to work on,” MSU head coach Wade Regier said. “Like quality scoring chances and putting the puck in the net. I feel like we always have chances to score, but can we finish plays? We are going to continue to work on that in practice.”

With the ACHA National Tournament right around the corner in March, now isn’t the time to be letting up.

“This is the stretch now,” Regier said. “Less than a month before the National Tournament gets seeded. So, it’s big for us to show everything that we got here in the next few weeks.”

Five MSU goals in the first period went through Vautour (2), Davis Sheldon, Jordan Robertson and Wayde Johannesson.

“The first one tonight, I just went to the net, got the puck and scored,” Vautour said. “The second one, my linemate hit me backdoor. (The pass) was on my stick with a wide-open net.”

Heeding the lyrics of their repetitive goal song, “Don’t stop the party” by Pitbull, the Beavers tacked on three more goals in the second period.

Connor Schuster and Eric Soar scored for the first time, while Sheldon netted his second.

“We came out firing,” Regier said. “For our program, we can’t overlook our opponents, regardless of who we play. Even though we won big last night (11-0), that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again tonight. They started a new goaltender, so things could have been completely different.”

Not wanting the party to fizzle out in the third period, the Beavers padded their eye-catching shots on goal total (65) and knocked in three more goals.

Goal No. 9 went to Kent Walchuk before Vautour’s hat-trick tally secured double digits. A Justin Metcalf strike matched the 11-goal outburst the Beavers had on Friday against the Tetons.

Williston State’s Wade Auge broke up the shutout bid for MSU goaltender Holden Kurtz with 7:02 remaining.

“It just slipped away,” Vautour said about allowing one goal. “We should have had that one.”

The Beavers put on a dominating display despite lacking a full arsenal. Along with on-going injuries to various skaters, captain Blake Fournier was also scratched because of an illness.

“I’ve even been a little bit sick,” Regier said. “It just seems like it has been a revolving door with a couple of guys every practice. Normally, we do a little workout on Monday. But, I feel like we are going to cancel that… Hopefully, that quarantine will get the guys back on track. But, yeah, we had some forwards playing ‘D’ and ‘D’ playing as forwards tonight.”

Defenseman Austin Wieler got bumped up to forward in the third period. But that was for a different reason altogether.

“Part of that was (Wieler) hadn’t got his first goal yet,” Regier said. “So, we were trying to get him his first goal.”

Wieler got a couple of good looks but he will have to wait a little bit longer for his first goal.

Minot State remains at home for a pair of games next weekend against Colorado. Puck drop at 8 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 14) and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 15).

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

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