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Midgets let two-goal lead slip away in defeat to Williston

The Dickinson boys' hockey team hit the ice Tuesday night - facing a daunting task against the Williston Coyotes.

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Dickinson forward Kylar Blotske (32) goes after the puck in the second period against Williston Tuesday, Nov. 30 at the West River Ice Center in Dickinson. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

The Midgets welcomed the Williston Coyotes to the West River Ice Center in Dickinson Tuesday night for their second game of the season and first in the WDA.

Ranked as the top team in the west region by the WDA coaches before the season began, Williston presented a tough challenge for the Midgets early in their season and provided a measuring stick to see how Dickinson fared against top competition.

Early on the Midgets were in control, taking a 2-0 lead in the second period, but they couldn’t hold back the Coyotes as they scored three goals in the final period, including the winner with under a minute to play, to deliver Dickinson a 4-3 loss.

It was 2-1 Dickinson (0-1-0-0, 0-2-0-0) at the end of the second period, but Williston would begin the third on a power play after Midgets’ forward Cole Kadrmas was called for hooking.

The Coyotes (1-0-0-0, 1-0-0-0) took advantage of the extra man and tied the game at 2 to begin their scoring barrage in the final period.

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Dickinson defender Ryker Klaman (28) tries to stop the Coyotes' attack, but would be called for holding in the first period against Williston Tuesday, Nov. 30 at the West River Ice Center in Dickinson. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

“I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit,” Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. “We sat back and started playing too defensive. It’s something that we’ll go back to the drawing board and come back to practice tomorrow, put our hard hat on and get back to work at it.”

Just a few minutes later, Williston defender Jackson Ekblad found the puck in the offensive zone on the left wing, cut inside, and sent the puck past Dickinson goalie Jayce Concha for a 3-2 lead.

Searching for the tying goal, the Midgets failed to capitalize on a pair of power plays. Not only did they struggle to score a goal, the chances weren’t being created as the Coyotes’ penalty kill unit did an excellent job of defending their zone.

However, Dickinson’s persistence paid off as they were given another power play opportunity and finally took advantage of it, with the tying goal coming from forward Kaden Dvorak with 2:42 left.

Overtime seemed inevitable with both teams frantically clearing their respective zones, but the game still had one more goal in it, coming from the visitors.

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Dickinson forward Taylor Giese (22) brings the puck up the ice in the third period against Williston Tuesday, Nov. 30 at the West River Ice Center in Dickinson. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

After a mistake in the offensive zone by the Midgets, the puck slipped behind the defense for Williston’s Ashton Collings to pounce on and net the winning goal on the other end with 53 seconds left.

It was a crushing blow for Dickinson, who experienced all of the emotions throughout the game, being up 2-0, to falling behind 3-2 and then tying it 3-3.

“(We need to) keep our foot on the gas,” Kuntz said. “All coaches will say two-goal leads are the worst things in hockey. You’re still up if they score one but teams can get comfortable. Williston is a very skilled team and our best defense is our forecheck. When we’re in the offensive zone our guys are buzzing.”

Both teams had two power play goals, with both of Williston’s coming back-to-back towards the end of the second period and beginning of the third.

“I’m not disappointed with the actions of the players. It’s bad timing, I think some of them are hard-working calls. You’re going to get penalties here and there,” Kuntz said. “When you play a team like Williston and give up power plays like that, they’re tough. They got some horses and they’re going to put the puck in the net.”

Dickinson forward Evan Groll slotted home the first goal of the game in the first period, assisted by Dvorak. Sophomore defender Kaeden Krieg had two assists, coming on each of the Midgets’ next two goals.

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Dickinson goalie Jayce Concha (1) makes the save in the first period against Williston Tuesday, Nov. 30 at the West River Ice Center in Dickinson. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson had 41 shots compared to 31 for Williston, with Concha making 27 saves. Coyotes’ goalie Mason Haugenoe had 38.

Despite the loss, it was a good sign to see Dickinson control the game for portions of the contest against a tough opponent, in the eyes of the coaches across the region, but of course, a win would have been even better.

The Midgets will return to the ice on Saturday, Dec. 4 for a road contest with Bottineau-Rugby in Bottineau.

SCORING

WC - 0 1 3, 4

DHS - 1 1 1, 3

First Period

DHS - Evan Groll, assisted by Kaden Dvorak, 1-0, 10:26

Second Period

DHS - Sam Stillings, assisted by Kaeden Krieg, 2-0, 4:09

WC - Chase Brannin, assisted by Jackson Ekblad and Ashton Collings, 2-1, 16:40

Third Period

WC - Carter Bakken, assisted by Collings and Colby Nehring, 2-2, 1:09

WC - Eklblad, assisted by Riley Erickson, 3-2, 3:42

DHS - Dvorak, assisted by Dawson Frank and Krieg, 3-3, 14:18

WC - Collings, assisted by Erickson and Bakken, 4-3, 16:07

Related Topics: HOCKEYDICKINSON MIDGETS
Race Archibald is a former sports reporter with The Dickinson Press.
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