Anyone who has watched their fair share of Devils Lake boys hockey this season can tell you that the Firebirds are better than what their record indicates, but after another heartbreaking EDC home loss to Grafton/Park River on Thursday night, it seems that this group is still missing something.
Devils Lake responded to three seperate one-goal deficits during the contest, including a third-period equalizer from Cooper Knoke that tied things up at three late in the game, but they were unable to keep the puck out of their own net as they eventually fell to the Spoilers 4-3.
It seemed that with each goal the Firebirds managed to score gave the home team a decent spell of momentum, but each time, Devils Lake was unable to capitalize, and that’s what cost them, according to head coach Dave Zimmerman.
The Firebirds need a change, and Zimmerman has indicated that he’s going to switch things up in the team’s upcoming fixtures.
“We’re getting closer and closer, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We need to stop doing that,” Zimmerman said. “We’re still trying to find the right combinations, because right now, it’s not clicking. So, we’re going to try and make a few changes for the rest of our games to see if we can get something going.
“We need to find a spark.”
A spark would be a welcomed boost for this team, a group that is still in search of its first district win of the season (0-6 EDC). The loss on Thursday brings to the Firebirds’ record to 3-8 on the year overall.
Brit Bouillard got things started for the Spoilers with a goal 13:29 into the first period, assisted by Charlie Thompson, to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
It didn’t take long for Devils Lake to tie things back up. Chris Dahlen, who intercepted a wayward Grafton/Park River pass, brought the puck into his offensive zone and clanked his shot off the near post and into the back of the net. His goal game 3:50 into the second period and knotted the score at one.
Less than four minutes later, Brett Longtin, who was sent to the box four times throughout the game, including two times for unsportsmanlike conduct, scored for the Spoilers in what was perhaps the goal of the night.
A reverse pass from Jess Suda played in Longtin, who finished his chance with an accurate shot just over goaltender Holden Kurtz’s left shoulder and just under the crossbar to make it 2-1.
The Firebirds seemed destined to take another one-goal deficit into the locker room during the second intermission, but an off-balanced goal from Landyn Swenson with ten seconds left on the clock tied the score back up at two heading into the third period.
Page 2 of 2 - Benjamin Thompson made it 3-2 in favor of the Spoilers just 3:43 into the third, but once again, Devils Lake came back to equalize yet again.
With less than four minutes remaining in the game and with Devils Lake on the power play, Cooper Knoke found the back of the net for the Firebirds to tie the score again, assisted by Matthew Boren.
But it only took Grafton/Park River a minute to erase that goal with a tally of their own. Jess Suda scored a goal 14:24 into the final period, his second point of the game, giving the Spoilers their second win of the season over the Firebirds.
This game was within Devils Lake’s grasp, yet they let it slip away like so many of the team’s games this season. The talent is there for this group. They just need to find that spark.