On the list of goals the Bismarck Blizzard girls hockey team put together heading into the semifinals of the girls state hockey tournament, the last one came from the seniors.
It was simple and direct: "We are not letting Grand Forks end our season ever again."
Haleigh Springan turned that vow into reality.
It was Springan who scored the game-tying goal in the second period of a tight contest. And after the Blizzard killed off back-to-back penalties in the second overtime, it was Springan who delivered the final blow in Bismarck's 2-1 victory over the KnightRiders.
For the Blizzard seniors, it was a nice bit of payback to a Grand Forks team that had knocked them out of the postseason each of the last three years.
"It's sweet revenge — it is," Springan said. "It feels good."
That was an understatement, judging by the tears of joy on Springan's face. She was just as emphatic about the reason for her emotional response.
"Because I wouldn't rather play with anyone else but these girls," she said.
The game was a defensive struggle, especially through regulation time. The official game sheet credited each team with just two quality scoring chances apiece through the first two periods.
It took power plays to get the offenses going. The KnightRiders cashed in on their first one, a nifty passing play ending in Brooke Berry's 14th goal of the season at 10:25 of the second.
Bismarck got its first chance with an extra attacker less than a minute later, and the Blizzard didn't let it go to waste. Springan fired a shot from the left circle past Grand Forks goalie Brelyn Swendseid, tying the game at the 12:08 mark.
The game opened up a bit in the third period and especially in the overtimes. But neither Swendseid nor her Bismarck counterpart, Kennedy Blair, would yield.
Blair, a freshman, was particularly good. Of her 34 saves, half came in the two overtimes. She made a series of tough stops on Grand Forks star Nicole Novak.
"Honestly, the way Kennedy was playing, I thought it was going to take an amazing goal to beat us," Bismarck coach Annie Cashman said.
But the KnightRiders seemed capable of producing that. Back-to-back Bismarck penalties in the second overtime — resulting in 15 seconds of 5-on-3 action — didn't help the Blizzard's cause. But the Bismarck penalty kill, which Cashman called the best in the state, rose to the occasion, paving the way for Springan's heroics.
"She's got such a quick release, and she just stepped over the blue line and got about 5 feet in and just ripped it," Cashman said.
Springan insisted that she never doubted the Blizzard would prevail, even as the pressure from the KnightRiders mounted.
"Not one bit," Springan said. "No, I knew we had it."
Bismarck will take on top-seeded West Fargo in the championship game at 5 p.m. today. The Packers swept the Blizzard during the regular season, winning 3-0 and 4-0. But Bismarck welcomes the challenge of playing West Fargo.
"I'll be honest — that's the team I want to play," Cashman said. "I want to play the best team in the biggest game of the year, and we owe them. They have not even seen half of our best hockey."
Bismarck 0 1 0 0 1 — 2
Grand Forks 0 1 0 0 0 — 1
First period: No scoring.
Second period: 1. GF, Brooke Berry 14 (Lexi O'Halloran, Peyton LeNoir), 10:25 (pp). 2. B, Haleigh Springan 21 (Kelsie Hall, Brianna Flynn), 12:08.
Third period: No scoring.
First overtime: No scoring.
Second overtime: 3. B, Springan 22 (unassisted), 11:41.
Goalie saves: B — Kennedy Blair 3-6-8-7-10—34. GF — 5-5-6-3-3—22.
Penalties: B 6 minors. GF 4 minors.
Records: B 18-7; GF 17-8.
West Fargo 7, Jamestown 2
West Fargo jumped out to a four-goal lead in the first period and rolled to a semifinal victory over Jamestown.
Leading scorers Hayley Walsh and Kelly Krahn each had two goals — and each have 44 on the season — and also both contributed an assist. Allison Springer scored once and had two helpers.
Amber Schaack and Torri Kamlitz each scored once for Jamestown, which was making its first semifinal appearance. The top-seeded Packers are in the state championship game for the third time in four years.
Jamestown 1 1 0 — 2
West Fargo 4 1 2 — 7
First period: 1. WF, Rachel Monkman 11 (Chelsea Wangen), 2:40. 2. WF, Kelly Krahn 43 (Allison Springer), 10:42. 3. WF, Springer 25 (Hayley Walsh, Kourtney Lothspeich), 14:04. 4. WF, Walsh 43 (Tori Holland), 16:08. 5. J, Amber Schaack 41 (Larissa Wiest), 16:58.
Second period: 6. J, Torri Kamlitz 12 (Wiest, Sidney Soulis), 10:59. 7. WF, Krahn 44 (Springer), 13:45.
Third period: 8. WF, Walsh 44 (Krahn), :47. 9. WF, Paige Lazorenko 9 (Janey Sandoval), 12:24.
Goalie saves: J — Carissa Finck 10-12-12—34. WF — Andrea Klug 3-7-3—13.
Penalties: J 1 minor. WF none.
Records: J 18-7; WF 23-1.
Fargo South-Davies 6, Williston 0
Freshman Alex Woken continued her huge season, picking up three goals and an assist as Fargo South-Davies downed Williston in a loser-out game.
Woken has 38 goals and 23 asssists this season. Emily Grothmann made nine saves for the shutout.
Williston 0 0 0 — 0
FS-D 3 1 2 — 6
First period: 1. FS-D, Lindsay LaMont (McKenna Moore), :51. 2. FS-D, Alex Woken (Kara Tupa), 13:25. 3. FS-D, Woken (Alli Thomas, Madi Hanson), 16:10.
Second period: 4. FS-D, Woken (Tupa), 13:36.
Third period: 5. Hanson (Carly Rutter, Woken), 8:43 (pp). 6. FS-D, Moore (Brittany Potas, Summer Hayes), 15:29 (pp).
Goalie saves: W — Maddy McLees 11-14-4— 29. FS-D — Emily Grothmann 2-4-3—9.
Penalties: W 4 minors. FS-D 3 minors.
Records: W 9-16; FS-D 15-10.
Minot 2, Fargo North 1
Makaila Anderson scored at 6:13 of overtime as Minot defeated Fargo North in loser-out play.
North had taken a lead on Kari Volk's power-play goal early in the third period. But Bryanna Bergeron scored with 2:47 left in regulation to force OT.
Fargo North 0 0 1 0 — 1
Minot 0 0 1 1 — 2
First period: No scoring.
Second period: No scoring.
Third period: 1. FN, Kari Volk 3 (Tianna Larson, Jamie Nielsen), 4:19 (pp). 2. M, Bryanna Bergeron 2 (unassisted), 14:13.
Overtime: 3. M, Makaila Anderson 8 (Angie Lothspeich), 6:13.
Goalie saves: FN — Olivia Pladson 7-7-7-0—21. M — Sydney Swanson 11-8-7-1—27.
Penalties: FN 7 minors. M 7 minors.
Records: FN 9-16; M 11-13.