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South-Shanley earns chance to defend state title after 3-2 win over West Fargo Sheyenne

Feb. 17—GRAND FORKS — Fargo South-Shanley will have a shot to defend its North Dakota state boys hockey championship.

The Bruins used Landon Meier's two goals in a three-goal first period before hanging on for a 3-2 win over West Fargo Sheyenne on Saturday in a state qualifier at the East Region tournament at Purpur Arena.

"Anything can happen in the state tournament," said Meier, who scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season. "Just to get there is such a blessing. Now that we're going to be there, let's show them what we've got."

The Bruins carried the No. 4 seed into the matchup, with the Mustangs at No. 6 but Sheyenne beat South-Shanley twice during the regular season.

This time, the Bruins took advantage of Sheyenne's slow start. The Mustangs played to triple overtime in a loser-out game Friday afternoon.

"We knew they'd played almost six periods of hockey (Friday) and so the message was to jump on them early," said South-Shanley coach Matt Hansen, who's in his first season as head coach of the Bruins after taking over for the retired Dean French. "Luckily, we were able to hang on. (Sheyenne coach David) Benson knows how to get their guys going. We knew it was going to be a battle and our guys did what it took to win."

The Bruins went ahead 2-0 when Meier scored at 5:51 of the first and 8:58 of the opening period.

"We came out with a lot of energy," Meier said. "We got pucks on net, and you never know what's going to happen. We got rebounds and got that early lead."

South-Shanley's Andrew Kankelfritz made it at 12:57 of the first before Sheyenne finally answered with an Ian Iverson goal at 14:08 of the first.

After a scoreless second period, the Mustangs made things interesting with a wrap-around goal by Cooper Clouse to cut the lead to 3-2 with 6:05 left in the game.

The Mustangs came close to tying the game when Iverson rang the post with 3:08 remaining.

Sheyenne's comeback efforts were set back by a roughing penalty at 14:50 of the third period.

Sheyenne pulled its goal with 42.9 seconds after a timeout. But South-Shanley center Zach Skarperud was tough on draws and the Mustangs never had a serious threat with the goalie pulled.

"We hit three, four posts," Sheyenne coach David Benson said. "One of those goes in, and it's a different game. That's the game. You could tell the legs were a little heavy in the first but we got after it in the second and third. We gave it our all, and that happens sometimes."

Sheyenne's Jadon Beeter made 20 saves, while South-Shanley's Landon Walter had 36 stops.

The Bruins return to the state tournament, where they beat Grand Forks Red River in triple overtime a season ago.