FARGO — When Fargo North-South and Jamestown stepped on the ice for warmups Tuesday at the Coliseum, it looked like any other game. The Spruins were playing on their own ice, in a midweek matchup.
In the postseason.
There wasn’t the traditional pomp and circumstance that’d normally surround the opening round of the state tournament, but the Spruins knew exactly what Tuesday night was. They entered the quarterfinal against No. 8 seed Jamestown aware that if they lost, their season was done.
The Spruins made sure their season stayed alive, and tapped into their dangerous offense for a high-scoring 7-0 win over Jamestown.
“Our whole mindset this year has been getting to tomorrow, and this is a huge piece of that puzzle,” said Spruins head coach Parker Metz. “These girls have come a long way this year. I keep saying that over and over again, but every day they keep impressing Coach Haley and I, and we can’t be proud of them getting through this first one.”
If the Spruins (18-2) felt any pressure as the top seed in the tournament, they didn’t let it show.
Senior Abby Promersberger netted a hat trick, and sophomore goalie Savannah Wuitschick had 16 saves for the shutout.
“It feels really good,” Promersberger said. “Showing that all of our hard work over the season has paid off. Just going hard every shift knowing that if we didn’t win, we wouldn’t have another day of the season.”
The Spruins advance to play No. 4 Grand Forks (15-8) at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.
North-South came up short in the opening round at state a year ago. The group wasn't about to let that happen again.
“I think that definitely pushed everyone to want to come out on top,” Promersberger said. “It definitely gave everyone more motivation to want to push for that goal and making it to the next step, with how it went last year.”
Wuitschick, in her first year on the team, was making her state tournament debut.
“It felt like it was another Tuesday,” Wuitschick said. “You go out, you kick some butt and you have a good time.”
Jamestown, which ended its season at 5-14, was making its first appearance at the state tournament since the 2012-13 season.
The Spruins set the tone early. Sophomore forward Julia Puhl tipped in a Molly Hanson shot from the point to give the Spruins an early 1-0 lead less than two minutes in. North-South continued to control the pace.
“This year, I think we’re all dialed in,” Promersberger said. “We went really hard off the start and it showed in the results of our game.”
Isabelle Puhl fed Promersberger down low to push North-South’s lead to 2-0. Promersberger walked in from the corner and found the back of the net off her backhand with just under five minutes remaining in the first period.
Less than a minute and a half later, Rylee Bartz got the puck off the face off to an open Lindsey Astrup at the hash marks. Astrup snapped a shot that sailed over Jamestown goalie Erika Anderson’s glove.
“A big thing we work on is connecting passes. ‘We possess the puck, we possess the game’ has been my thing all year with them,” Metz said. “Tonight, we connected some passes we haven’t in the last couple games and it was really refreshing to see them connect those simple plays.”
Anderson had 15 stops in the first frame. The Blue Jays didn’t get many first-period chances with North-South’s high-pressure attack.
The second frame was a different story. Jamestown, trailing 3-0, spent the majority of the first half of the second period in North-South’s zone. The Blue Jays rode that momentum to create some solid scoring chances, but none got past Wuitschick.
The Blue Jays doubled their amount of first-period shots in the second frame. They held North-South scoreless for 13 minutes, but the Spruins erupted for three late second-period goals in a two-minute span.
“I think we’re doing really well defensively and using our defensive momentum to get to the offensive,” Wuitschick said.
Promersberger went end to end for her second goal of the night with 3:58 left in the period. Astrup added her second score a minute later. McCartney Jundt capped the onslaught, which gave North-South a 6-0 lead.
Promersberger got the lone goal in the third period, which featured more back-and-forth action. She scored her hat trick with an unassisted backhander.
FIRST PERIOD: 1, FN-S, J. Puhl (Hanson), 1:41. 2, FN-S, Promersberger (I. Puhl), 12:20. 3, FN-S, Astrup (Bartz, Olson), 13:42.
SECOND PERIOD: 4, FN-S, Promersberger, 13:02. 5, FN-S, Astrup (Bartz), 14:04. 6, FN-S, Jundt (Olson), 15:00.
THIRD PERIOD: 7, FN-S Promersberger, 15:08.
SAVES: FN-S, Wuitschick 4-8-4—16. J, Anderson 15-14-11—37.