Holding a 1-0 lead early in the second period against Minot, the Dickinson High girls hockey team faced its first real test when junior forward Ali Lafond was sent to the penalty box for body checking.
With a 16-10 shots-on-goal advantage to that point, the Majettes appeared on their way to add to that margin, but instead, the action remained on the other side of the ice, as the Midgets possessed the puck by skating to corners or wheeling around the net through much of the penalty kill.
Perched high atop the bench, Dickinson head coach Al Takle put his hands together to applaud his players' efforts during a stoppage with 37 seconds left to kill.
The Midgets killed off three more penalties, scored on two power plays and added a shorthanded goal, capturing a 4-0 victory on Saturday, Jan. 12, from the West River Ice Center.
"We've been working on that a lot during practice," Takle said. "Coach Kira (Kuntz) has been working with our forwards to forecheck on our penalty kill, not let them get momentum to come into our zone. We certainly did that with controlling it. ... In our zone, we weren't chasing the pucks, we were staying disciplined and playing our positions. Even when they were getting shots, there weren't a lot of shots that were dangerous."
Lafond was whistled for tripping eight minutes and 59 seconds into the second frame, but Dickinson again shutdown the Minot attack, allowing just two shots through two penalty kills.
Two minutes later, Majettes junior O'Malley Eslinger was sent to the box for holding. It took the home team 19 seconds to cash in after junior defender Taia Klaman fired a wrist shot by sophomore goaltender Amber Borkhuis.
Just prior to the second intermission, Lafond was called for her third penalty - again for body checking, but the work of Baylee Kram kept the Majettes off the scoreboard. Stonewalling a Minot flurry in front of the net, the senior goaltender made five stops during the Majettes power play.
"Tonight was all about finishing and capitalizing on loose pucks in front of the net," Majettes head coach Weylin Wahlstrom said. "They got a good 'tender, she's big and takes up a lot of the net. We take shots and got scoring opportunities, but we're not always going to score on that first shot. She's a good goalie and good goalies are going to get that first save, but we didn't capitalize on any of our rebounds that were sitting in front of the net."
When the road team crashed the net, Kram was alert enough to either cover the puck or hold the opponent at bay until her teammates could gather the puck. Other times, the Majettes took shots without any traffic in front, allowing Kram to make easy glove saves. She collected 30 saves en route to her third shutout of the season.
"I thought Baylee played an outstanding game. A 30-shot shutout, that's phenomenal," Takle said. "We've been waiting for her, I don't want to say steal one for us, but to really come through and play; that was good."
Early in the third period, Lafond earned some redemption for all her time in the box. Standing just outside of the crease on the Midgets' second power play, Lafond deflected in a Klaman shot from the point.
"I got a few penalties, so that was a little stressful, but I was trying to match their aggressiveness," Lafond said. "Toward the beginning of the season, we weren't doing well at working together, but since the Christmas break, we've really been putting it together and gotten better chemistry."
Midway through the third, Dickinson freshman defender Jenna Moormann was called for a five-minute major on a check from behind. During the Midgets' final kill of the afternoon, Kram stopped three shots, the team cleared the puck twice before Klaman delivered the best highlight of the day, as she picked up the puck in the defensive zone, skated by the first three Majettes defenders, split the last two before bearing down on the goaltender. Borkhius denied Klaman's first attempt, but the junior jammed in the rebound for her state-leading 20th goal of the season.
Klaman was involved in the first score in the game as well. During the first period, she hammered a blast from the point, but after an initial save, the puck deflected off the skate of a Minot defender and across the crease. Sophomore forward Emma Meduna was in the perfect position, knocking the puck into the open net for her first career varsity goal.
"Taia shot it from up in the corner and I was just trying to down (to the net) and get it in," Meduna said. "I tried to get to the net and crash hard. I was pretty pumped and surprised."
Entering the contest, Dickinson and Minot were locked in a three-way tie for sixth in the state standings. Following their first win over the Majettes in a decade, the Midgets now sit alone in sixth with 15 points.
"Huge win for us, very important for us in the overall (scheme) of going to the state tournament. We got to continue to get wins and they're one of those teams we're fighting with, so that's very huge for us," Takle said. "(Minot) is a team that traditionally we've struggled with, so it's fun for our girls to get a win against them."
Dickinson 4. Minot 0
M 0 0 0 - 0
D 1 1 2 - 4
FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Emma Meduna, 13:59.
SECOND PERIOD: 2, D, Taia Klaman, PP 11:20.
THIRD PERIOD: 3, D, Ali Lafond (Klaman, Kamryn Kuntz), PP 1:28. 4, D, Klaman, SH 9:24.
SAVES: M, Amber Borkhuis 6-7-7-20. D, Baylee Kram 12-12-6-30.