Devils Lake Boys Hockey is still buzzing from its first district win of the season, a 2-1 overtime decision over Grand Forks Central, but it’s not going to get any easier for the Firebirds. In fact, this weekend represents one of the toughest stretches the team will have to endure all year.
The Firebirds (4-8, 1-6 EDC) will travel to Fargo this weekend for a pair of district games that could make or break their season. Friday night, they take on Fargo Davies (10-2, 6-2 EDC), the team currently perched atop the district standings. The following afternoon, just hours after playing the Eagles, they play the Bruins of Fargo South/Shanley (5-5-1, 4-2-1 EDC), a team that beat them 5-1 earlier in the season.
That being considered, the road to a second, and even third, straight victory is going to be a daunting task indeed for Devils Lake, but Zimmerman is hopeful that his team can apply the momentum from their most recent win into the weekend.
“Hopefully, we can carry this confidence into the weekend,” Zimmerman said shortly after his team’s first EDC win of the season. “We have a tough few games coming up, and we still have a few things to fix.”
One thing that Zimmerman and the Devils Lake coaches have stressed all season is the importance of staying focused and paying strict attention to details, and though the Firebirds were able to take two points from the Central game, there were a lot of things that the team could have done better.
The thing that comes to mind immediately is the fact that the Knights were able to reel off 45 shots on the Devils Lake net, something that would have resulted in a certain loss for the Firebirds had junior goaltender Holden Kurtz not been at the very top of his game.
Zimmerman commended Kurtz for what was a spectacular performance on Tuesday night. It hasn’t been the easiest season for the junior to endure, and there are more than a few conceded goals that Kurtz wishes he could take back, but after a performance like the one he displayed against Central, it appears that Devils Lake’s star goaltender is back to his usual best.
“I think Holden has started to figure it out. He’s back to his old self,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully this was a stepping stone for him for the rest of the season, because we’re going to go as far as we can with him.”
The team also had a number of terrific scoring chances that went begging, chances that the players will need to take advantage of if they hope to steal a few points away from their Fargo rivals.
Page 2 of 2 - Jordan Swanson rocked the crossbar against Central, and Cole Thompson skated in with a few notable chances, but both players were unable to finish their opportunities.
In hindsight, those missed chances don’t matter as much considering how the game finished out, but those are the moments that Devils Lake will need to capitalize on going forward. The Firebirds are becoming a team that not many EDC sides are going to want to play late in the season, and if they can start to notch a few more goals and finish off their grade-A opportunities, then they’ll be in great shape.
The puck drops between Devils Lake and Fargo Davies at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Fargo.