GRAND FORKS - Junior forward Jersey Kelly had big shoes to fill as the first-line replacement for suspended forward and leading scorer Quinn Fuchs.
Kelly didn't disappoint, leading the Magicians back from an early deficit by scoring two goals in the opening minute of the second period en route to a 3-2 victory against Jamestown in a state tournament consolation game at Olympic Arena on Friday. MHS faces Fargo North, the fourth seed from the East, in the fifth-place game at noon today.
The Magicians went into the first-period intermission trailing by a goal after Jamestown's Nick Stockert knocked in a loose puck behind Minot sophomore goaltender Breydan Effertz. Effertz made the initial save on Tommy Bruns, but couldn't corral the puck as it trickled behind him, allowing Stockert an empty net to shoot at.
Minot High School’s Ryan Peterson skates the puck up along the side boards as Jamestown’s Matt Grounds closes in on defense during a state tournament consolation game Friday at Olympic Arena.
Minot - staring the end of its season in the face with a loss - capitalized on its chances in the second period. Kelly gave the offense a boost, scoring just 13 seconds into the frame to tie the game. Kelly lifted a shot over Jamestown goaltender Ben Walz's short-side shoulder seconds after the Magicians returned to full strength.
"It was just getting the puck in and working hard," Kelly said. "That seemed to be the best thing that happened to us."
The junior forward wasn't done. Just 34 seconds later, Kelly tallied his second goal of the period to give the Magicians their first lead of the state tournament. Junior forward Hayden Schwarz assisted on both goals.
"He did a nice job," MHS coach Chad Burckhard said of Kelly. "Kelly's played a lot of big minutes as a second-line center. Kelly did a great job winning faceoffs against Jamestown's first line and that kind of kept them at bay."
Kelly's second tally ended Walz's day in net for the Blue Jays. Walz made all 10 of his saves in the first period before allowing goals on the first two shots he faced in the second frame. Tygh Yatskis played the rest of the game in relief, finishing with 13 saves.
The Magicians scored in the opening minute of the second and closed out the frame with a short-handed goal in the final 45 seconds to build a 3-1 lead heading into the third. Sophomore forward Matt Flom received a pass at the blue line from Kelly and fought his way by two Jamestown defenders en route to the short-handed tally. Flom's goal came nine seconds into a roughing penalty assessed to Minot's Jake Smith.
"The second period has always been our best period this year," Kelly said. "We played a good first period though. We just had to work a little bit harder and bury our chances when we could."
Minot's penalty kill shut down Jamestown's power-play unit, stopping all five of the Blue Jays' opportunities. With the Magicians holding on to a slim 3-2 advantage following Jamestown forward Austin Rene's goal at five minutes of the third period, Minot senior forward Tyler Kast was assessed a five-minute major and a game disqualification for checking from behind. Minot successfully killed off the major penalty, limiting Jamestown's opportunities for open looks on Effertz, who finished with 18 saves.
"That penalty kill was probably our best penalty kill of the season," Burckhard said. "I believe we only gave up one shot the entire five-minute major.
"We just competed extremely hard. The guys won all of the stick battles, they didn't let (Jamestown) into our zone very easily. We just made it really difficult for them."
Kast will not be in the lineup for Minot's season finale today.
"It's a matter of opinion on that call," Burckhard said. "Unfortunately the referees are put in that situation. I'm saddened by the fact that Tyler won't be with us (today). He's done things the right way for the last three years and it's a pity not to have him play in the game."
Fuchs will return to the lineup after serving his one-game suspension for a checking-from-behind penalty in Thursday's loss to Fargo Davies.