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Tom Mix, Published February 23 2013

Bismarck tops West Fargo in ND state girls hockey title game

GRAND FORKS – Very few would like the chances of a freshman goalie going up against a team that had scored 183 goals in 24 games.

That was the situation Bismarck freshman Kennedy Blair found herself in on Saturday playing West Fargo.

Blair turned in an un-freshman-like performance in net and propelled the Blizzard to a 4-0 win over the Packers in the North Dakota state girls hockey championship at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

“Being a freshman and playing in the state championship is a lot of fun,” said Blair, who finished with 28 saves. “I was really nervous when I first came in because I didn’t know what to expect. … I played a heck of a game I guess.”

Blair was named to the all-tournament team and was voted most valuable player. This season is Blair’s first with the Blizzard and just her second playing girls hockey.

She allowed one goal and made 80 saves in three games at the tournament.

“She is the most competitive player on the team,” Bismarck head coach Annie Cashman said. “She demands excellence. … I can’t say enough about her. That was a big game for her. It was almost like a passing of the torch. Andrea Klug (West Fargo’s goalie) has owned the net for North Dakota for four years. It was neat seeing Kennedy step up.”

Top-seeded West Fargo – a team with a top line that features the state’s top three scorers – was unable to shake the youngster Blair.

“She definitely was hot,” West Fargo head coach Pat Johnson said of Blair’s play. “That is probably why she was named MVP.”

After a scoreless first period, Bismarck got on the scoreboard first when sophomore Mikala Montgomery got a shot past Klug six minutes into the second period.

Five minutes, 28 seconds later, senior Haleigh Springan added another goal for the No. 3-seeded Blizzard (19-7-0).

“They got a couple of bounces off the back wall that didn’t favor us at all,” Johnson said. “They were there to put them in and we didn’t clear them. They made the most of their opportunities. We gave them a couple and they buried them and we didn’t capitalize.”

Brianna Flynn and Kennedy Hageness scored goals for the Blizzard in the third period to seal the victory.

“We came out strong,” Blair said. “We knew we had it all. Once it was 2-0, we didn’t need to score any more goals. We just had to play defense.”

West Fargo (23-2-0) outshot Bismarck 28-15. The loss was the Packers’ first to a North Dakota opponent and snapped a seven-game winning streak.

It is Bismarck’s first state championship since 2007.

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, B, Montgomery, 6:00. 2, B, Springan, (Flynn), 11:28.

THIRD PERIOD: 3, B, Flynn, (Binstock), 8:14. 4, B, Hageness, (Barta), 12:21.

SAVES: B, Blair 4-15-9–28. WF, Klug 7-4-0–11.

All-tournament team: Hayley Walsh, Sr., F, West Fargo (unanimous selection); Alex Woken, Fr., F, Fargo South-Davies; Haleigh Springan, Sr., F, Bismarck; Amber Schaack, Sr., D, Jamestown; Tori Holland, Jr., D, West Fargo; Kennedy Blair, Fr., G, Bismarck.

Tournament MVP: Kennedy Blair, Bismarck

Coach of the Year: Pat Johnson, West Fargo

Senior Athlete of the Year: Amber Schaack, Jamestown


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562