122217-spt-blizzard-hockey

Bismarck Blizzard forward Felicity Blair, right, takes a shot on goal in the first period against Moorhead, Minn. at the VFW Sports Center on Thursday night. 12-21-2017

MIKE MCCLEARY TRIBUNE

 The monster is loose and wreaking havoc in the countryside.

 After being shaken awake in a 6-3 home loss to Fargo North-South early this month, the Bismarck Blizzard has outscored its last three opponents 24-1.

 The latest salvo in that offensive fusillade came at the expense of the Moorhead, Minn., Spuds. The final tally was 5-1 Thursday night at the VFW Sports Center.

 Four-time all-state player Britta Curl was the ringleader for the Blizzard with her first hat trick of the season.

 She notched both goals as the Blizzard jumped away to a 2-0 first-period lead and lit the lamp again in the third period to run her season goal count to 10.

 Curl said the score could have been even more lopsided after the first period, given the way the Blizzard skated in the first 17 minutes.

 "The energy in the locker room was good. We knew if we kept playing that way, we'd put a few more in," she observed.

 Two of Curl's goals came on the power play, and she didn't waste any time taking care of business. Her first extra-player goal came four seconds into a Moorhead penalty. The Spuds had been skating a girl short for just 39 seconds when she topped off her hat trick in the last period.

 Blizzard coach Tim Meyer said Thursday's three-goal effort was one of many during Curl's career. However, Curl said glowing stats aren't her main concern.

 "It (a hat trick) is always fun, but it's icing on the cake if we win. But it's not my first goal at the beginning of the game," she said. "I want to make sure I'm doing the best I can and the team is, too, so we get a win."

 Bismarck left little doubt that a victory was inevitable in the first 17 minutes. The Blizzard left the ice with a 2-0 lead, a 9-4 shot advantage and and an even more impressive territorial advantage.

 Moorhead had only two shots on net in the first 11 minutes  of the game, and the Spuds' coordinated offensive forays were few and far between. For the night, Bismarck outshot the visitors 26-13.

 Meyer said Blizzard goalie Skylar Ackerman, who missed a shutout by less than four minutes, could easily have blanked Moorhead.

 Moorhead's Drew Syverson slipped a shot past Ackerman from the left point on a power play with 3:56 remaining.

 "There were a lot of bodies in front of the net and their defenseman (Syverson) saw the opportunity," Meyer noted. "We didn't do a very good job of moving bodies out of (Ackerman's) way."

 Defense as a whole is something that must be addressed during the second half of the season, according to Meyer.

 "I think the effort is there. The biggest thing is cleaning up the defensive zone," he said.

 Bismarck's scoring spanned the spectrum — two power play goals, two even-strength goals and a shorthanded goal.

  Defenseman Taylor Lenertz scored the first goal of the second period while penalty-killing. She beat Spuds goalie Emma Kolo with a blast to the five-hole from the inside edge of the right circle with 3:21 expired.

 "There's a time and place for everything," Meyer said of Lenertz's third goal of the season. "Taylor Lenertz is a defenseman who, if she sees an open lane, is going to go for it."

  The Blizzard improved to 6-1 with the victory. Moorhead lost for the seventh time in 10 decisions.

 Bismarck has five days off before making its annual trek to a demanding three-day tournament that begins on Dec. 27 in Blaine, Minn.

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Sports Reporter