'Cannot ask for more': Jays play their guts out in state qualifier

Feb. 17—BISMARCK, N.D. — Matt Stockert had a difficult time finding words on Saturday afternoon.

"It sucks — it really does," Stockert, the head coach of the Jamestown High School boys hockey team, said. "Words are tough right now. You've got eight seniors who just played their last hockey game. You want more for the kids but the Big Man upstairs always has a plan and for some reason that plan didn't include us playing another week of hockey this year."

Stockert and the Blue Jays fell 2-1 to Bismarck Century in the state qualifying round of the West Region Hockey Tournament.

"They are the No. 1 team in the West for a reason," Stockert said of Century. "They are a good club. They are big, they are fast and they are strong. They do a good job of taking care of the puck. Troy is a class act. He and I've been coaching a long time against each other.

"You wish any of the teams who qualify out of the West Region the best of luck because you want the West to do well," he said. "If there is someone who could make some noise and do some damage in Fargo — it sure could be the Patriots."

The Blue Jays finished out the regular season at 9-9 locking them into the No. 6 seed entering the regional tourney. Overall, Stockert's squad finished out the year at 11-13.

Nate Walz ended up the team's leading scorer with 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points. John Belzer, a sophomore for the Jays, was the second-highest producer with 10 goals and 17 assists.

Both the leading scorers were involved in Saturday's lone goal.

Belzer created a Century turnover and made the pass down the ice to Walz. Walz scored on the breakaway goal to give the Jays a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.

The Jays' lead held until Hayden Ritter got one past Blue Jay senior goalie Louis Kjellberg early on in the third. Keaton Schulte scored the game-winner at 8:55 in the third period.

"We had three or four good looks or Grade As they call them where we either hit the goalie or the goalie made a save and if those go in — it's a totally different conversation right now," Stockert said. "It's just a tough pill to swallow."

Kjellberg finished the state qualifier with 40 saves — 20 of which came in the third period. Kjellberg made 339 saves off 380 shots faced for an 89.2 save percentage. Carter Borg, the Jays' other weapon in goal, made 384 saves and allowed 54 goals making for an 87.7 save percentage.

"It's a group of young men who brought their time cards and punched in today," Stockert said. "They went to work today. Unfortunately, we just ended up with the short end of the stick.

"You cannot ask for any more than what was given," he said. "The kids showed up every day. They love the game. Even though today is hard, there is a lot of character in that room right now that's for sure."

Century 2, Jamestown 1

JHS 0 1 0 — 1

BC 0 0 2 — 2

First period

No scoring.

Second period

1. JHS, Nate Walz (John Belzer), 8:24.

Third period

2. BC, Hayden Ritter (Charlie Vig), 4:32; 3. BC, Keaton Schulte (Heath Frykman, Haydon Eckart), 8:55.

Goalie saves: Jamestown, Louis Kjellberg 6-14-20—40; Century, Hoyt Ubl 9-5-0—14

Penalties: Jamestown 2 for 4 minutes; Century 2 for 4 minutes.