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STATE BOYS HOCKEY: West Fargo stuns Bismarck Century 3-2 in double overtime

Bismarck Century players break the huddle before the opening puck drop against West Fargo in Thursday opening round of the ND state high school hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

West Fargo came to this week’s North Dakota boys state hockey tournament with something to prove.

And the Packers proved they are not a No. 7 seed, like they were at the start of the East Region tournament.

West Fargo stunned Bismarck Century 3-2 in double overtime Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the North Dakota boys state tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Packers advanced to tonight’s semifinals against Bismarck High after sophomore Ben Dirks sniped home the game-winner on a Century turnover at 2:42 of the second overtime.

“We’ve been playing a lot harder,” Dirks said. “We knew we could do this all the way. A lot of people doubted us.”

There is no doubt now.

Dirks, a sophomore, intercepted a Century clearing pass near the left circle and quickly sniped a low shot five-hole on Century goalie Max Barta to send the Packers into celebration mode.

“He’s got a good shot,” said West Fargo co-coach Tim Capouch. 

Now, West Fargo has a shot at reaching the state title game Saturday night if the Packers can continue their late-season surge against Bismarck.

Century appeared to be in good shape to meet rival Bismarck tonight but the Packers forced overtime when Tyler Berginski scored at 15:31 of the final period.

The goal came during a scramble in front of the Century net. Officials reviewed the goal to see whether it was kicked into the net by Berginski, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the ice.

In overtime, both teams had good scoring chances, especially Berginski.

But both Barta and West Fargo goalie Bailey Vareberg were solid in the first OT.

West Fargo scored first on Berginski’s goal at 8:01 of the second. The Patriots got the equalizer when Keaton Leininger bad-angle shot kicked off Vareberg’s skate and into the net at 11:54 of the second.

Cole Foss put Century up 2-1 at 10:22 of the third and the Patriots appeared to be in good shape.

Then came Berginski’s controversial goal.

“We left too many things to chance,” said Century coach Troy Olson. “We had quality opportunities but we couldn’t get anything to go.”

West Fargo remains on the go. And this was a team that was struggling mid-season.

“At 3-9, it would have been easy for us to throw in the towel,” said West Fargo co-coach Troy Miller. 

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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