Morelli’s hat trick propels Magi past Century 6-3
A quartet of second-period goals picked the Minot High boy’s hockey team up off their recent schneid on a cold and snowy Tuesday evening, as a trio of Mackley Morelli goals lifted the Magicians to their fifth conference win of the season by a 6-3 final score over the Bismarck Century Patriots at the Maysa Arena.
The road warrior Magicians (5-3-1-2) returned home to the Maysa for the first time since Dec. 21, breaking up a stretch of seven of eight games away from home ice spanning Dec. 28-Jan. 15.
Since the club’s last home tilt, the Magi struggled through a Minnesotan road trip, dropping two of their three games to Mahtomedi, St. Louis Park and Roseau to fall to 4-3-1-2 entering Tuesday’s action.
“We didn’t play great down there the first two games, we had spurts where we did. (They’re) really good hockey teams,” Magi co-head coach Jason Bennett said. “Roseau’s number one in Minnesota, and we played really well the second game down there and got a 2-1 win over a good hockey team.”
An early second-period power play righted the ship for the Magicians in the offensive zone after concluding the first frame trailing by one, allowing the team to burst through the Patriots’ (1-6-0-2) defense and notch a pair of goals less than a minute apart.
With Century defenseman Kade Orsad in the penalty box for an interference infraction, defenseman Jaxon Bradley gathered control of the puck along near boards just inside the blue line and sent it Mackley Morelli’s way just above the far circle.
With room to set himself up, Morelli skated in a few paces and unleashed a wrist shot in the middle of the circle. The puck clanked off the right corner and in past Century netminder Kaden Jangula and tied the game with just over 10 minutes to play in the period, giving Morelli his sixth score of the year.
As the clock ticked down past 9:30 to play, Caelton Eslinger brought the puck back into the offensive zone with Ben Svangstu to his left. The former tried a cross-ice pass to the latter but a Jangula kick save provided a fortuitous bounce off Vig’s skate and in, pushing the Magi ahead 2-1.
Another Minot man advantage produced a virtual carbon copy of the sequence in the final two minutes of the frame. Morelli tallied his second power play goal of the game from almost the same spot with 64 seconds on the clock, and junior defenseman Haeven Freeman scored his first goal of the season 11 seconds later via a chip shot from the far side of the crease to put the Magi ahead 4-1.
Ahead of the second-period theatrics, the two schools battled through an even first period Tuesday night that saw both teams manage five shots on goal halfway through.
Despite a flurry of Magi shots in the final minutes that gave the home five a 9-6 advantage in the category after the first frame, a last-minute Patriots goal manufactured by Maxon Vig’s wraparound pass to Kaden Roness broke the ice for Bismarck Century with 35.5 seconds to play.
The Patriots would add two more goals in the third period but Magi netminder Noah Conklin, bolstered by his team’s offensive outburst, kept his team ahead with 15 saves on the night.
Morelli, meanwhile, polished off his first Magi hat trick with a backhanded finish off a rebound allowed by Jangula with 11:30 to play and Eslinger potted his second score of the game into an empty net to seal the three-goal win.
“The kid can shoot the puck. He’s giving his brother a run for his money,” Bennett said of Morelli. “Mason could always shoot the puck, and Mackley can shoot it as well. It’s good to see him having success at a young age.”
The Magi will have a bit of time off before their next tilt, currently scheduled for Jan. 8 on the road against Fargo Davies with a 3:15 p.m. puck drop.