Beavers bring national title back to Minot, blank Bulldogs in 1-0 win

David Herman/Hockey House – The Minot State men’s hockey team secured their third ACHA National Championship in program history with a 1-0 win over the Adrian College Bulldogs on Tuesday night.

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – Being the No. 1-ranked team is an honor but also extremely difficult. It comes with added pressure and a target on your back, as every team you face will throw their best at you in hopes of getting a win. For the Minot State men’s hockey program, they’ve handled the pressure of being the top-ranked team extremely well.

Prior to their run to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Tournament Championship Game, the Beavers won over 30 games during the regular season and went to overtime in just three instances.

Now, during their time in the ACHA National Tournament, the Beavers have been battle tested and had to dig deep, but they continue to show that they know how to win and have that drive and desire to do great things.

Their ability to grind out wins has led them to the ACHA National Tournament Championship Game, where they matched up with the Adrian College Bulldogs on Tuesday night.

Even though the Beavers were one win away from the ultimate prize, head coach Wyatt Waselenchuk and his team are keeping the same mindset they’ve had all year.

“We are going to simplify everything we do, just like we’ve done all season. We are going to stay up for one another and do everything we can to bring the title back to Minot.”

In search of their third national championship in program history, the Beavers were back in the title game for the first time since the 2020-21 tournament where they fell to the same Bulldogs team they saw on Tuesday night.

Hoping to not let history repeat itself, the Beavers are keeping a simple approach ahead of Tuesday night’s title game. “We just have to stay structured, stick with what we do, and stay positive.”

The Beavers stayed true to themselves and their structure by blanking the Bulldogs to secure their third national championship in program history with a 1-0 win. Jake Anthony’s sixth shutout of the season could not have come in a bigger moment, as the Beavers’ goaltender kept a powerful Adrian College offense quiet.

“It’s unbelievable. To come together in late August and see the culmination of all the hard work for the last seven months and then some, and to be able to hoist that trophy is hard to put into words,” Waselenchuk said on the feelings of winning a national title.

He added, “These guys have put in so much hard work this year. From 6 a.m. workouts and practices, to all the time in the classroom and everything in between. It’s been unbelievable and they’ve earned every inch of it.”

A fast and physical first period resulted in both teams being unable to develop a consistent attack, yet showed signs of what would be a thrilling title game. After Payton Jerome of the Beavers took a hit to the head, Minot State went on the power play for five minutes with 13:22 left in the opening period.

In their first big advantage of the night, the Beavers were unable to strike as the swarming penalty-kill unit of the Bulldogs only allowed two shots on goal. The Beavers matched the production on the penalty kill by eliminating a Bulldogs’ advantage with 5:41 left.

Both goaltenders, Anthony and Noah Decottignies of Adrian College, fought off every shot they faced with the Beavers and Bulldogs taking their scoreless tie into the first intermission.

When play resumed, it was a mostly quiet second period. The Beavers went on the penalty kill two minutes into the action and Brayden Pawluk provided a boost by blocking a Bulldogs’ shot. As time went on, the Bulldogs began seeing an improvement in shot quality but were unable to score.

During the final five minutes of the second frame, the Beavers began seeing a slight improvement in their shot quality as well. For them, however, it paid off. They began working around the net which led to Reece Henry and Wayde Johannesson finding Josh Pederson for a goal with 2:28 left to give Minot State the first goal of the game and a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs outshot the Beavers 10-7 in the second period, but Anthony continued to not let up. Heading into the third period, Anthony stopped all 14 shots he faced and helped the Beavers maintain their one-goal lead.

With a national championship on the line, the Beavers had their biggest test of the season in the third period when they went on the penalty kill with 14:05 left. The Beavers succeeded in holding the Bulldogs off the board, highlighted by a championship-saving denial from Anthony.

Despite the Bulldogs pressing to make something happen, Anthony and the Beavers’ defense shut down their plans for an equalizer.

With time winding down and a nail-biting finish coming to an end, the Minot State men’s hockey team tossed their helmets, gloves, and sticks in the air and celebrated on the ice as they were successful in achieving their biggest goal of the season.

“I’ve been a part of three national championship teams here at Minot State and this is as tight of a team as I’ve ever seen. From top to bottom, these guys will do anything for the guy sitting next to them and that’s a dangerous team,” Waselenchuk said.

“To have a hand in every one of these young men’s lives is something I don’t take for granted. At some point, hockey is going to end for all these guys. It’s the memories, life lessons, and determination that these kids show that will take them a lot further than hockey. I think it’s pretty rewarding as a coach.”

The Beavers proved that pressure is no problem, as the No. 1-ranked team went into the ACHA National Tournament and got the job done by winning a national title.

When discussing what helped the Beavers handle the pressure surrounding being ranked No. 1, Waselenchuk was quick to credit his captains and leadership group as big reasons why they were able to manage.

“Davis Sheldon, Connor Navrot, Drew Carter, and Carter Barley are such a great mix of different personalities. They’ve kept it even keeled whether we are up in a game, down in a game, ranked No. 1 or ranked No. 20. It doesn’t matter, it’s business as usual and I couldn’t be prouder of our leadership group and everything they’ve done for us.”

For fans and community members that want to welcome back the national champs, the Minot State men’s hockey team will arrive at the Minot International Airport at 8 p.m. this evening.


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