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Beavers overwhelm Bearcats 7-0

Lose to Lindenwood 3-0 in tournament semis

Ryan Ladika/MDN Megan Norris (left) charges into the offensive zone during the Beavers' 7-0 win over McKendree Saturday afternoon. The forward scored three goals, one in each period, in the winning effort.

The Minot State Beavers had everything working on both ends of the ice in their Saturday afternoon matchup with McKendree University, riding a Megan Norris hat trick to a 7-0 win over the Bearcats.

The contest was a breath of fresh air for the Beavers, who had lost their tournament opener 3-1 to Adrian College Thursday afternoon and needed third-period heroics to bounce back and take Friday’s contest 3-2 against Midland University. Once Minot State grabbed their early lead, it never looked back and coasted to the dominant shutout win.

“As bad as it sounds, it was almost nice to get that first loss out of the way. Get the jitters out of our heads and then just focus on moving on to the next game, one win at a time,” head coach Ryan Miner said. “Now we’ve stepped it up since that first game and we’re focused on tomorrow.”

The Beavers had met McKendree earlier this season, sweeping the Bearcats in a two-game series in Minot March 19-20. Minot State edged McKendree 3-2 in the series opener and routed the visitors 8-1 the next night, moving to 4-0 all-time against the Bearcats dating back to October 12, 2019.

The game’s first goal again belonged to the Beavers, marking the third time in three tournament contests Minot State registered the initial tally. Norris, bearing down on McKendree goaltender Naomi Leasck’s crease, received a pass and flicked the puck in with an accurate backhanded shot with eight minutes and three seconds in the first frame.

The Beavers received a chance on the power play later in the period, but McKendree’s penalty kill held its own and limited the damage to a single goal in the first 20 minutes. Despite the narrow lead, the signs of a potential blowout were aplenty; Minot State had outshot the Bearcats 17-5 in the first frame alone.

The dam burst in the middle period. Minot State’s offense threw the kitchen sink at Leasck and came away with three more scores. Norris potted her second of the game as she stumbled to her knees with a wrist shot that sent the puck above the netminder’s arm-blocker just over a minute in. O’Malley Eslinger stuffed the puck in past Leasck’s left skate after Sami Jo Henry threw it on goal with a minute and 46 seconds on the clock. Sarah Martin recorded the dagger that floated in with just 5.1 seconds to play in the period.

The Beavers’ offensive barrage was relentless. Entering the third period, the Beavers had outshot McKendree 43-6 and led 4-0.

Minot State found the back of the net three more times in the third period, courtesy of Gillian Gervin on another power play opportunity, Riley Ball with just over three minutes to play, and Norris with her third of the game to complete the hat trick.

Norris’ third of the contest resembled Eslinger’s second-period score, as she slid the puck in through an opening between the right post and Leasck’s skate. With an ear-to-ear smile and a fist pump, she leapt into a group hug with her teammates as the Maysa Arena public address announcer called the goal. She said the achievement was on her mind after her second tally of the game.

“Yeah, obviously that was the goal,” she said with a smile. “It’s a team effort, but it was a great win and it felt really good.”

When the final horn mercifully allowed the Bearcats off the ice, the Beavers had thrown 67 shots at the McKendree net and allowed only eight to reach Minot State goaltender Haylie Biever on the other end. The Beavers’ defensive unit has settled in since the tournament-opening loss, allowing a total of 25 shots in the last two games combined after surrendering 29 in the Adrian defeat.

“I think it’s just a matter of building confidence,” Miner added. “Every game we’ve built more confidence, especially on the back end, they’re stepping up, they’re doing their jobs, they’re being physical, they’re pressuring. In that sense, they’re getting in their rhythm and hopefully that carries on into tomorrow.”

As it turned out, the Beavers went on to lose 3-0 to Lindenwood on Sunday afternoon which ended their hopes of capturing a tournament championship this year.

Beavers take men’s tournament opener 2-1 over Calvin

The Beavers men’s hockey squad was also in action Saturday afternoon in Missouri, squaring off against Calvin University in the opener of the men’s 2021 ACHA Division I National Tournament.

The Beavers and Knights played a scoreless first period, as the two teams were getting a feel for their opponent’s style and tendencies in the first-ever matchup between the two programs.

Minot State broke through with a pair of scores in the middle frame, courtesy of Nick Doyle just three minutes and 20 seconds in, and Davis Sheldon’s score just past the halfway point of the period.

The Calvin defense stood tall the remainder of the game, but Chad Duran made 38 saves to out-duel senior Knights goaltender Darin Fox, leading the Beavers to an eventual 2-1 victory.

The Minot State men also played Lindenwood on Sunday afternoon, beating the Bearcats 2-1. They advance to the semifinal round, which will be played on Monday.

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