It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
Jamestown hockey coach Matt Stockert watched his team get off to a slow start on Tuesday, but the Blue Jays finished with a flourish in posting an 8-3 West Region victory over Mandan at the Starion Sports Complex.
“I thought we started off a little slow,” Stockert said. “I didn’t like the way we played the first eight minutes. Lo and behold, the last nine minutes, I thought we did some real good things and got pucks to net and got bodies on people and created a little chaos for Mandan.”
After a slow first period, the Blue Jays took the lead with a goal late in the first period.
In both the second and third periods, the Braves battled back to even things up.
But Mandan was never able to take the lead, and the Blue Jays erupted for five goals in the final 11 minutes to run their winning streak to three games. With 15 points, the Blue Jays are tied with Century for first place in the West Region.
“You’ve got to give credit to Mandan,” Stockert said. “They didn’t go away and they kept battling and trying to take away the middle of the ice -- which they did a real good job of.
“I think once we figured out ways to get by that middle and get pucks deep and make some nice plays -- the result is what you saw at the end.”
Jamestown got on the board late in a back and forth first period.
Corey Nelson pounced on a rebound and put the puck past Braves goaltender Maysion Mattern with 25 seconds remaining in the first period as the Braves were looking at a delayed penalty. Tommy Falk put the first shot on net and was credited with the assist.
Mandan evened things up early in the second period. Justus Sayler scored on a rebound, lifting the puck over Jamestown goaltender Matthew Schneider, who was off his feet after making a save on Jackson Zittleman’s shot on net. That made it 1-1 at the 4:13 mark of the second,
Jamestown regained the momentum, scoring two quick goals just over eight minutes later.
Devin Hofmann finished on a breakaway at 12:20 to put the Blue Jays back in front, and 49 seconds later Jace Thompson found the net off assists from Alex Senf and Connor Fuchs – who assisted on both of the Jays’ second-period tallies – to make it 3-1 Jamestown.
But the Braves battled back, and 1:22 later Parker Zander scored off an assist by Zittleman to pull Mandan within a goal at 3-2.
Early in the third, the Braves evened it up again. Keatyn Skytland scored at 2:04 on a power-play goal to make it 3-3.
Jamestown shook it off again.
“That’s the key is when you have a group of kids that can shake it off and if you have that attitude that, hey there’s more hockey to play here, good things will eventually be a result of that,” Stockert said.
“It was one of those nights where they get a goal to tie it up in the third there off of our defenseman’s stick, a lucky bounce. They’re trying to make a play, we’re trying to make a play, and unfortunately it goes in the back of our net. But the kids put their noses to the ground and went after it even harder after that.”
Just over three and a half minutes later, Jamestown – which never trailed – regained the lead on a rebound goal by Parker Stockert at 5:46.
Two quick goals – just 32 seconds apart – by Hofmann (at 11:18 and 11:50) pushed the Blue Jays’ lead to three at 6-3.
Two more quick goals – 25 seconds apart – by Thompson and Leo Halko (a shorthander) pushed the lead to 8-3 at 14:54.
Hofmann finished with five points – a hat trick and a pair of assists. Thompson had two goals, and five different Jamestown players notched goals. Nine different Jays scored points, with Fuchs picking up three assists.
“We’ve seen that all year long, Stockert said. “Every once in a while we’ll have a guy with two or three but for the most part we’re getting scoring from our third line.
“When the Blue Jays have been successful in the past, we’ve had some success with some good third lines and if we can get those guys dialed in with the way we want to play – that’s how we want to play. We don’t want to rely on one kid or two kids or one line to get things done on a nightly basis.”
Schneider stopped 29 shots in net for Jamestown (8-4-0, 5-3-0 West Region), including 11 in the third period.
Mattern finished with 36 saves for Mandan (4-6-1, 1-4-1 West Region) – with 13 in both the first and third periods.
Mandan travels to Dickinson on Thursday, while Jamestown visits Minot on Friday.