Bismarck was selling quantity on Tuesday night. Century peddled efficiency.

 Efficiency won as Century, though outshot, trimmed archrival Bismarck 5-2 in West Region boys hockey at the VFW Sports Center.

 The victory enabled Century to finish off a regular season sweep of the Demons, a feat CHS hadn't accomplished since 2012-2013 season. BHS swept the Patriots the last two seasons.

 "The last two years they swept us. I've waited three and one-half years to beat these guys two times," said Century senior Isaiah Thomas, who contributed two assists to the CHS win.

 Century prevailed although outshot 31-20.

 "That's the story of our last three games," said BHS coach Mike Peluso, whose Demons dropped decisions to Fargo South-Shanley and Fargo Davies last weekend. "We're trying to find a little bit of a scoring touch. We haven't had it for awhile now."

 "When it comes I have a feeling we're going to fill up the net against somebody," Peluso added.

 CHS coach Troy Olson gave a tip of the hat to his goaltender, senior Cooper Leininger, who turned back 13 shots in the first period and 10 in the third for a night's total of 29.

 "I think that (Leininger's play) was the difference, right there," Olson said.

 Century set the opportunistic tone early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period while getting outshot 13-8.

 Junior forward Kirklan Irey found the net first, beating BHS goalie Quinn Ackerman with a high shot from the top of the left circle for his 29th goal of the season at 9:08. 

 A little over two minutes later, Patriots sophomore Connor Hanson, stationed at the right post, converted on a power play to give Century a two-goal edge at the first break.

 Century gave Leininger a three-goal edge to work with by scoring the only goal of the middle period. Paydin Slette banged in a shot from the left point for a power-play goal just 26 seconds after Bismarck's Zach Kuhn was sent off for tripping.

 Bismarck's offense showed signs of lift in the third period, but managed only a 2-2 standoff with the Patriots.

 BHS sophomore Connor Martire finally solved Leininger at 5:23 of the final session, connecting from the top of the slot.

 Three minutes later, Century's Colton Schulte answered, lighting the lamp from the right circle against BHS goalie goalie Austin Martin, who had lost possession of his stick a few seconds earlier.

 Bismarck's Joey Heinert cut the deficit to 4-2 with 6:01 to play, but Hanson, who had two goals and two assists on the night, hit an empty-netter with 1:39 on the clock.

 Riding a three-game losing streak in the last week of regular season play isn't exactly Peluso's cup of tea, but he's not reaching for the panic button.

 "We didn't play very well tonight and we didn't play very well last week, either. ... I'm guessing we'll be fine come tournament time, though," he observed. "Give Century credit. They're a good hockey team."

 Hanson's offensive exploits and Leininger's netminding notwithstanding, the evening belonged to Thomas.

 Thomas, who 20 goals and 38 assists on the season, was presented with the Ulness memorial trophy before the start of the third period. The award, in its 36th year, is named for the late Joe Ulness, a former BHS goalie. Playing ability, leadership and sportsmanship are taken into account when determining the annual award recipient.

 "I've known about the award since my sophomore year. ... It's nice to have my name on the trophy along with the rest of the great players who have won it," Thomas said.

 Century improved to 16-4 with the victory, 12-0 in the West Region with one regular season game remaining. Bismarck dipped to 14-6 and 9-2. Bismarck closes regular season play on Thursday, playing host to Jamestown. Century's finale is Friday against Bottineau-Rugby in Rugby.

BHS at CHS hockey

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Sports Reporter