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McKechney's third period tally leads Jimmies to win

University of Jamestown's Phoenix McElroy-Scott looks on as teammate Cole McKechney goes for the puck with Minot State's Austin Kilian (18) Thursday at John L. Wilson Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
University of Jamestown skaters look on as Minot State's Davis Sheldon moves the puck towards the goal Thursday at John L. Wilson Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Mother nature must've known it was the start of hockey season in Jamestown.

A moderate snowfall began coming down Thursday evening, but it didn't stop University of Jamestown hockey fans from celebrating with a tailgate outside of John L. Wilson Arena two hours prior to the game.

The fans were also treated to a good game on the ice as Cole McKechney scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lead the Jimmies to a 3-2 victory over in-state rival Minot State University.

"We've been waiting for this day for a while," said Jamestown coach Cole Bell. "Between myself, the coaching staff and everybody else working with this program, we spent a lot of time putting the tailgate together to market the team and let Jamestown know how exciting UJ hockey is."

The goal came at a weird spot as McKechney joined Michael and Allan Pruss during the middle of a line change. The two brothers passed the puck around to find the junior for the power-play tally.

"I was just coming off the bench, actually, and I saw the Pruss twins working hard on the forecheck, they popped it loose to me, I took a step and shot it."

McKechney was the Jimmies' points leader with 33 points (10 goals and 23 assists) last season, including four power-play goals.

"Is anybody really surprised?" Bell asked. "He's a fantastic player that has great hands and a great knack for creating offense. He's quietly one of the hardest workers that drives himself further and further each day."

Some of the new features for Jimmie hockey this year was orange pregame lighting, a chuck-a-puck game where people throw pucks to get closest to center ice and a slap-shot challenge intermission game.

"That's what we're trying to build here, and only being a third year, we're trying to get better every year and we want to create a fun experience for the people that come out and support us."

Beavers' Davis Sheldon and Jamestown's Phoenix McElroy-Scott each traded goals in the first period to send the game to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes played.

Dylan Johnson once again gave Minot State the lead but Cameron Todd tapped in a cross-ice pass from defenseman Trevor Okino to once again send the contest to a 2-2 tie after two periods played.

"I can't say enough about how these guys battled tonight," Bell said. "When you work hard and do the right things, good things like that goal will happen."

After Jamestown was swept two weeks ago against Missouri State University, Thursday and Friday's home-away meeting between the two teams had even more of a meeting early in the season.

"We spent a lot of time this week talking about what this game was going to feel like and even though it's early October, we talked about it being a playoff atmosphere," Bell said. "We didn't want to go 0-3 and Minot's 1-1-0-1 and the didn't want to drop another one. So we knew we'd have to fight for every inch and sure enough we're able to come out on top."

Play from Maysa Arena will get underway at 7:30 p.m. today.

"It's going to be a little different atmosphere on our end because they get pretty rowdy up there," Bell said. "Minot always comes to play up there in their barn."

University of Jamestown 3, Minot State 2

MSU 1 1 0 -- 2

UJ 1 1 1 -- 3

First period

1. M, Davis Sheldon (Unassisted), 8:46; 2. J, Phoenix McElroy-Scott (Michael Pruss), 18:07.

Second period

3. M, Dylan Johnson (Unassisted), 2:28; 4. J, Cameron Todd (Trevor Okino, Dylan Haney), 9:41.

Third period

5. J, Cole McKechney (Michael Pruss, Allan Okino), 5:51.

Records: Jamestown 1-2. Minot 1-2-0-1.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853