Majettes hockey falls 4-1 to Bismarck
Ackerman makes 38 saves in season-opener
A slow start put Minot High behind the eight ball in the early going and the Majettes were unable to recover from an overpowering second frame authored by the Blizzard in a 4-1 defeat Tuesday evening at the hands of Bismarck High in their season-opener at Maysa Arena.
Taking the ice for the first time since their double-overtime defeat in the 2021 North Dakota State Quarterfinals, the Majettes welcomed to the Magic City a Bismarck team that finished third in the state during the regular season a year ago and advanced as far as the state semifinals.
The Blizzard were led in scoring last season by Cameron Schmidt, when the then-junior tallied seven goals and 14 assists for a total of 21 points. Abigail Tallman and Taylyn Cope finished in the top two spots on the scoresheet for Minot, meanwhile, with 14 and 13 goals, respectively, factoring into point totals of 22 and 21.
Bismarck seized the contest’s early momentum, jumping out to a quick 5-1 advantage in the shot column, but newly-minted starting netminder Jillian Ackerman was up to the challenge, turning aside each of the Blizzard’s seven total shots in the opening 17 minutes.
The Majettes would later find their offensive footing in the frame, throwing six shots the way of Bismarck goaltender Brooklyn Skjeret, but the junior matched Ackerman save-for-save in a scoreless first period.
The Blizzard commanded a dominant middle period, outshooting Minot 22-3 and recording the game’s first goal with just under seven minutes left. Schmidt picked up where she left off last year for Bismarck, splitting a pair of Majettes skaters on a breakaway and finally solving Ackerman on her team’s 25th shot.
“Offensively, just really putting pressure on the defensemen, making them make a mistake,” Majettes co-head coach Makayla Neuhalfen said. “I think we gave Bismarck too much time and they’re just a really good team and they’re going to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Bismarck would double its lead by way of a power play goal with 12:45 left in the third period and add one more even-strength score with 5:33 remaining and an empty-net goal with a second left to ice the three-goal loss for Minot.
The Majettes’ lone score of the evening came on the power play with 3:04 left in the game, when Marissa Votava provided Cope with a feed from behind the net, and the latter sent a try over Skjeret’s left shoulder from the low slot. Payton Lang was also credited with a secondary assist.
In the face of the offensive struggles Minot fought through, Ackerman shone in her first start as the Majettes’ primary netminder. The sophomore made 38 saves on 41 shots against, helping Minot hang with the Blizzard throughout the evening.
“Jillian is a game player and she was ready for it. She definitely got in a rhythm and she kept us in the game. Without ‘Ack’ back there, it could’ve been a lot worse. She did a phenomenal job,” co-head coach Chris Stokke added.
Minot will have a couple of days to fine-tune its game in practice before its next contest Friday evening, when the Majettes will hit the road for Devils Lake. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Devils Lake Burdick Arena.