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BOYS HOCKEY: Bismarck reaches title game

The charm-filled run the West Fargo boys hockey team has enjoyed the last two weeks came to an abrupt halt Friday night.

All the bounces went the way of the Bismarck during the North Dakota state tournament semifinals at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Demons cruised to a 7-1 win to earn a spot in tonight’s state championship game. Bismarck will play at approximately 7:30 p.m. today for the title.

Bismarck skated to a 2-0 lead after the first period, getting power-play goals from Brandon Gieszler and Jared Spooner.

The second period was even better for Bismarck. Considering the Demons committed six straight minor penalties in the first eight minutes, the period began looking like a perfect opportunity for the Packers to come back.

This time, no West Fargo revival occurred.

Instead, Bismarck extended its lead with two short-handed goals scored in the span of 15 seconds by Spooner and Tre Kautzman while West Fargo held a 5-on-3 advantage in skaters.

“It was definitely bizarre,” said Kautzman, who finished with three goals and his second hat trick of the tournament. “We were down a few skaters, but if we see an opportunity to score we are going to take it.”

Spooner scored two goals and added two assists for the Demons (22-4-0).

West Fargo was outshot 12-5 in the second period, even with its lengthy time on the power play.

“That was the opportunity,” Packers co-head coach Tim Capouch said. “It was 2-0 and then we give up two 5-on-3 short-handed goals. You can’t do that. You don’t win hockey games doing that.”

Even though the Demons executed during the penalty kill, Bismarck head coach Mike Peluso admitted to being frustrated with what became a revolving door into the box.

“I was just trying to take a deep breathe,” Peluso said. “Our kids do play with an edge and certainly a little too much. I tell them to bend the rules, but don’t break them. We broke them plenty, but then again they responded.”

Junior forward Riley Vareberg scored West Fargo’s lone goal with 5:30 left in the game.

West Fargo (10-16-0) plays at 1:15 p.m. today in the third-place game.

Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high school sports reporter. He's worked at The Forum for five years. He was the 2013 North Dakota sportswriter of the year, an award that is sponsored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to  

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