It was a defensive matchup and a duel between goalies at the Burdick Thursday night. The Crookston Pirates took on the Devils Lake Firebirds. It was fifty-one minutes of hard skating, lots of shooting, and some great saves by Brelee Jobe of the Pirates and Molly Black of the Firebirds.

Both teams had great chances all night.  The Pirates got their first chance about the twelve minute mark in the first period when two Firebirds went to the box.  The penalties weren’t called concurrently, but close enough that the Pirates had nearly four minutes of a 5-3 power play.  The Firebirds were very relaxed about it, didn’t chase the puck, but took every opportunity to clear it from their zone and then meet the Pirates about mid-ice.  They also kept the Pirates to only two shots on goal.

And about the six minute mark, the Pirates reciprocated with a pair of penalties giving the Firebirds a chance with their own 5-3 power play.  The Firebirds were all over the Pirates side of the ice.  The Pirates three then four defenders did a lot of stick checking, but couldn’t get the puck down to the Firebirds end.  The Firebirds put a lot of shots at the goal, but Jobe swatted or fell on all of them.  Much of the power play was played right in front of Jobe.

The Pirates had two openings near the end of the first.  A couple of muffed passes were picked up and turned into one-on-ones against Black.  She defended perfectly, and the first half ended in a pair of goose eggs.

Black came into the second period still untouchable.  And so did Jobe.  The Firebirds were all over the Pirates zone for nearly eleven minutes.  Then, the Pirates brought the battle to the Firebird blue line and started attacking.  One intercepted an attempt to clear the puck near the blue line.  It was a one-on-one against Black, the shot, off Black, and the puck slipped just past the outstretched glove, just beyond the reach of a nearly prone Black to the blade of Pirate MacKenze Epema’s stick and she flipped the puck over the back of Black and into the netting beyond.  And that was the single score of the game.  Black couldn’t have played a better game.

The third quarter was more of the same.  Ferocious play on one end leading to ferocious play on the other.  The Firebirds just couldn’t get the puck past Jobe, and they tried.  All game.  Sometimes the teams were nearly in the crease with Firebird players shooting and poking and trying again and again.  The closest they came was in the second when Samantha Sanders, on a break-away, sent a slap shot past Jobe only to have it bounce of the top bar.