It had been a long time since the Minot High School boys hockey team was victorious when facing off against Bismarck Century in the regular season.
But MHS broke through and snapped a 10-game regular-season losing streak to Century, fueled by junior defenseman Hayden Schwarz's hat trick and four special-team goals by the Magicians in their 6-2 victory Tuesday at Maysa Arena.
"The most important thing is it's a step in the right direction for our season," MHS coach Chad Burckhard said. "These guys weren't around four or five years ago and had nothing to do with any of those little streaks."
Minot High School junior Hayden Schwarz protects the puck during the Magicians’ 6-2 win over Bismarck Century on Tuesday at Maysa Arena. Schwarz finished with a hat trick in the victory.
The Magicians (7-4-1 overall, 6-2 West Region) seized the momentum early, tallying three goals in the first period while keeping the Patriots off the scoreboard. MHS sophomore forward Matt Flom registered the first goal of the contest off the rebound at two minutes, 42 seconds. Century starting goaltender Ryan Hanson couldn't corral a shot from the point by MHS' Ryan Peterson, allowing Flom the scoring opportunity.
"We really played as a team tonight and it just shows what we can do in the future coming into the big stretch of league games. It's really big for a young team like us."
Hanson - entering the game with a 1.68 goals against average and a .935 save percentage - lasted just the first period after surrendering a power-play goal to senior forward Andrew Keller and an even-strength goal to Schwarz.
"It's fun playing with those two guys - (Quinn) Fuchs and Flom," Schwarz said. "They can generate some scoring chances and get me the puck."
Hanson finished with five saves on eight shots faced before being replaced by Jack Abfalter to start the second frame.
Century (9-3, 6-1) got on the board to start the second period as Keaton Leininger beat MHS goaltender Breydan Effertz with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 8:02.
Less than two minutes later, MHS junior forward Carter Bechtold was whistled for interference, giving the Patriots the man advantage and a chance to capture the momentum. But it was Schwarz and the Magicians who took advantage, scoring short-handed. MHS junior forward led a 2-on-1 break and fired a shot on net that was blocked aside by Abfalter. Schwarz - trailing the play - was in perfect position to knock home the rebound.
"Schwarz is a defenseman by nature," Burckhard said. "We moved him up to forward this week just to get a little more offense out of the first line. It's not like he stepped up against one of the weaker teams in the region. He did it against a perennial powerhouse."
Schwarz got the hat trick with 8:29 left in the third period on the power play to seal Minot's first victory over the Patriots in four years. All three of Schwarz's goals were on special teams.
"I didn't expect (a hat trick)," Schwarz said. "I was just going out there and trying to do the most I could. I just moved from defense and I was just trying to generate some scoring chances."
Effertz - battling flu-like symptoms - finished with 33 saves for the Magicians.
The Magicians host Bismarck High at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.