Fargo North-South earns chance to defend state title with semifinals win over Legacy-Bismarck
The Spruins will face Fargo Davies in the state championship game for a third straight season on Saturday.
MINOT — The Fargo North-South girls hockey team won its first-ever state title as a co-op in 2022, and now the Spruins will get the chance to defend that title Saturday.
Second-seeded North-South topped sixth-seeded Legacy-Bismarck 5-1 Friday night at Maysa Arena to advance to the state championship game for the third year in a row.
"We're feeling great," Spruins forward Olivia Kalbus said. "We've been counting out since the beginning of the season. We brought our all (tonight) and we're hoping we can do the same (Saturday)."
The result sets up a rubber match between North-South (19-4-2) and top-seeded Fargo Davies (22-3-0), who will play for all the marbles for a third straight year Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Eagles claimed the 2021 state championship before North-South earned redemption last season.
"We owe them one," Spruins head coach Parker Metz said. "We did not show up the first two times we played (Davies) this year, and we owe them a good battle (Saturday). So I'm excited for the battle."
Two first-period goals set the tone for North-South, with Lauren Terstriep jamming the first one in at the 15:37 mark for her fourth of the year before Becca Mathison recorded her second goal of the tournament 1 minute and 20 seconds later.
Kate LeMoine put Legacy-Bismarck on the board in the second period at 6:42 on the power play to make it a 2-1 game, but it was all Spruins from that point forward.
Anna Nelson buried her team-leading 19th goal of the year with 2:50 remaining in the period to make it 3-1 after two.
In the third, Kalbus beat Legacy-Bismarck goaltender Moira Landsverk glove-side on a breakaway with 5:54 remaining. Kenleigh Fischer added a shorthanded empty-net goal 58 seconds later to make it 5-1 on her second tally of the tournament.
Final shots were 28-20 Spruins. North-South netminder Savannah Wuitschick made 19 saves in the victory while Landsverk set aside 24 shots for Legacy Bismarck.
Nelson finished with two assists for a three-point night while Kalbus and Mathison each added an apple for two-point games. Julia Puhl and Elsie Andersona also recorded assists for the Spruins.
North-South went 0-for-1 on the power play while Legacy-Bismarck was 1-for-5.
Legacy-Bismarck (14-10-0) will play fifth-seeded Minot (13-9-3) in the third-place game at 12:15 p.m.
Metz said he was pleased with the way his team played except for a sequence in the second period where the Spruins took two penalties and gave up a goal.
"It was a good game all-around," Metz said. "Our second period, we just kind of laid back a little bit too much. Then again, that's just riding the emotions of the game. We got too high and when we get too high, that's when things start to crumble for us. They just have to understand staying humble throughout the game."
The team's energy was high in the locker room. That, along with lockdown defense, is what it's going to take for the Spruins to get the job done Saturday.
"The energy in that locker room right now," Metz said when asked what the key to victory will be.
"Working together as a team," Wuitschick added. "We've got to have our defensive zone locked down and I think we're at a good place where we can finally get there."
FIRST PERIOD: 1, NS, Terstriep (Puhl, Nelson), 15:37. 2, NS, Mathison (Kalbus), 16:57.
SECOND PERIOD: 3, BIS, LeMoine (Johnson), 6:42. 4, NS, Nelson (Mathison), 14:10.
THIRD PERIOD: 5, NS, Kalbus (Nelson, Anderson), 11:06. 6, Fischer (unassisted), 12:04.
SAVES: BIS, Landsverk 12-5-7—24. NS, Wuitschick 4-8-7—19.