Fifty-one minutes of regulation couldn’t decide matters.
Eight minutes of sudden-death overtime almost wasn’t enough either.
Until Dain Sardellli got to the puck, fed it to Caleb Petrie and he put the puck in the net, snapping a scoreless tie with 36 seconds left on the clock and giving Bismarck High a 1-0 victory over Century on Friday night at the VFW Sports Center.
The Demons remained unbeaten, while handing the Patriots their first setback of the season.
The game-winning goal was Petrie’s seventh of the season, with Sardelli picking up his 16th assist.
“It’s our two big guys,” BHS coach Mike Peluso said. “They’ve been doing well this year. They’re starting to figure it out here they can find their space. Tonight was a tight game. You’re not going to get a ton of chances, so when you do, you’ve got to figure out a way to capitalize and it was a great play by both of them – one, to get the puck where he got it and then two, to bury it.
“I’m proud of those guys for sticking with it. It was a tough game and the emotions are always running high in this one and I thought they held it in check pretty well and got the job done.”
The two teams came into the game lighting the lamp on a regular basis – BHS had tallied 43 goals in eight victories, while Century had notched 51 goals in a 7-0 start.
But with Quinn Ackerman and Matt Schmidt dueling in the nets, one goal was enough.
“I thought our guys got better as the game went on.,” Peluso said. “Their conditioning started to take over a little bit. They pushed. That last play would be a great example. We still had some gas in the tank and I felt that they were a little tired on the other side and we were able to capitalize.”
Ackerman – who had a rough night in the Demons’ last game against Dickinson – stood stall in the nets, finishing with 39 saves – including 15 in the second period, 10 in the third and five in OT.
“He had a rough outing on Tuesday,” Peluso said. “We pulled him after the first period. He gave up four and it’s one of those things, it happens. They’re high school kids coming off a break and he just needed to kind of reset his mind and get himself back and he’s a kid that, when he’s on, he’s good. He’s just got to figure out a way to stay consistent and stay that way.”
Ackerman shut out an explosive Patriots squad, making several big saves along the way.
The Patriots’ Schmidt nearly matched Ackerman – finishing with 36 saves, including 13 in the third period, and a handful down the stretch as BHS buzzed continually toward the end of regulation.
“We had a few chances there, we hit a post and missed an empty net in overtime but he played well and credit to them – I thought Century played a really good game,” Peluso said.
Bismarck improved to 9-0, 6-0 in the West, while Century fell to 7-1, 4-1 in the West.
The key for the Patriots was sticking to the game plan in a tight contest.
“Just staying with the program,” Peluso said. “We’re making some adjustments in our game and we’re trying to work towards getting our guys to play a certain way, and they’re starting to get there.
“It just takes time. Every year you’re mixing in all the young and the new faces and it takes some time. They’re starting to sort of figure it out but we’re still a long ways off.”
The Demons travel to Devils Lake on Friday, Jan. 11, while Century visits Williston on Saturday, Jan. 12.