Boys hockey: Nolan Astrup records 43-save shutout as Spartans blank Bruins on Senior Night

It was Astrup's fourth shutout of the season and second against first-place South/Shanley.


FARGO — It wasn't a postseason game, but Friday night's boys hockey game between Fargo South/Shanley and Fargo North felt as close as it can get to one.

It was a contest between two of the East Region's best teams — the rivals squaring off in a packed John E. Carlson Coliseum on the Spartans' Senior Night.

Sure enough, it was North's senior netminder Nolan Astrup who stole the show, recording 43 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season and leading the Spartans to a 2-0 victory over the first-place Bruins.

Not only was it Astrup's fourth goose egg of the year, but it's also his second one against South/Shanley. He blanked the Bruins 3-0 in December.

"It feels great," Astrup said. "We got the team to do it and swept the No. 1 seed, and we just came through."


North head coach Tyler Klein said it brings him peace-of-mind to have a strong goaltender.

"He's an incredible kid," Klein said. "His work ethic, he shows up here every day and he's so driven to win. It's easy to play in front of a guy like that. He's just outstanding. He's such a great student, he's such a great player and he's been working for this. He does it the right way and works his tail off for it.

"I'm just super proud of him and everybody, really."

The Spartans improved to 12-5-2 on the season while the Bruins fell to 17-4.

Of course, goalies can't do it alone. It was junior forward Max Watson who opened the scoring late in the first period, receiving a pass from senior forward Koby Kiland and beating South/Shanley senior goaltender Noel Olsonawski from the slot to make it 1-0 with 2 minutes and 30 seconds to play in the opening frame. Junior forward Ray Walen added an assist on Watson's ninth tally of the season.

That score would hold up for much of the remainder of the game as Astrup did most of the work from there. Senior forward Connor Holm added an unassisted empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Klein noted how crucial it was to put one past Olsonawski — statistically one of the top goaltenders in the state — early on.

"That first period, one team would capture it and then the next would for another couple of minutes," Klein said. "That was a really fun period and that's what February high school hockey is all about.


"We made a really good low play. We really wanted to win pucks below their goal line and then we won one and we had an open guy out front. Max put a great shot on it and I remember saying it right at the start — both goalies came to play. Eight minutes into the game and (Olsonawski) had already made two Grade A saves and (Astrup) made a couple, as well. Both of those kids are outstanding goalies and they showed it."

The Bruins certainly had their chances, particularly in the second period. With under 10 minutes to play in the frame, South/Shanley senior defenseman Will Hofer ripped one from the left point which rang off the pipe and stayed out. Moments before that, the Bruins had a 2-on-0 shorthanded chance, but the puck wouldn't settle on the cross-crease pass.

In another instance, Bruins junior forward Zach Skarperud appeared to have finally beat Astrup before the officials blew the play dead and waved it off with the net coming dislodged before the puck went in.

Astrup said his defense makes it possible to handle those high-pressure situations in front.

"When I lose track of the puck, I kind of just stay close to my crease," Astrup said. "The boys did a good job of clearing the puck out when I was scrambling a little bit."

"In the second period, (South/Shanley) really leaned on us there," Klein added. "We got ourselves into some penalty trouble which we put on our own shoulders. Our guys bent a little bit but didn't break, so that was really good of our group. Nolan stood really tall and then we kept the shots to the outside.

"Fargo South is a tremendously skilled team, so it's kind of a matter of when are they going to get to our net and what are we going to do in those situations where we have to defend. I thought we stood tall, but I think we need to find more offense in those games so that we can keep the puck further away from our own net and manufacture our offense. But in big moments, we had answers (tonight)."

Final shots were 43-21 in favor of the Bruins. Olsonawski finished with 19 saves in net.


South/Shanley went 0-for-3 on the power play while North was 0-for-2.

North visits Grand Forks Central (12-7) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Bruins will next play in the East Region tournament beginning Feb. 14.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, FN, Max Watson (Kiland, Walen), 14:30.


THIRD PERIOD: 2, FN, Holm (unassisted), 16:46.

SAVES: FS, Olsonawski 10-4-5—44. FN, Astrup 14-17-12—43.

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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