The Devils Lake boys hockey team left it all out on the ice Friday night in a 1-0 triumph over WDA power Bismarck.
By Harry Lipsiea
The Devils Lake boys hockey team left it on the ice Friday night in a 1-0 triumph over WDA power Bismarck.
Coach Jens Stokke said it best, "the boys played their hearts out. So, I was a little nervous about our next game. We had to come out and take care of business."
For anyone with concerns of a letdown Tuesday evening for the Firebirds, it didn't take long to tell the squad was ready to go. Putting up 24 shots on goal in the first period and scoring the first two goals of the contest, the home team wasted no time against West Fargo.
Behind an impressive 61-shot performance by the Firebirds' offense, physicality by the defensive core and another solid day for goalie Wyatt Ness, the squad earned an 8-2 victory. Devils Lake improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the EDC with the victory.
While the third-year coach was disappointed that his team gave up some odd-man rushes to the Packers, he was glad with his team's ability to close out the game in the third period.
"The two goals we gave up were preventable," Stokke commented. "It was a matter of not executing our defensive zones as well as should of and our forwards weren't picking up guys life the should of. We are going to go to work at practice and try to correct those mistakes."
One of the best qualities for Devils Lake was its ability to respond after goals by West Fargo. The Firebirds bounced back with a big second period after a late first-period goal.
It happened again in the final stanza as a goal by the Packers cut their deficit to 4-2. The home team marched ahead scoring four goals to wrap up the victory.
"We did a good job coming back right away and stopping their momentum," Stokke said.
It didn't take long for Devils Lake to get on the board. A Ryyan Reule goal with assists by Tommy Reslock and Alec Miller gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 1:19. Reule got back on the scoresheet with a solo shot at 15:01 making the score 2-0. West Fargo battled back with a score of its own at 15:59 from Dalton Hiemer leaving the game at 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The Firebirds extended its advantage back to two at 5:24 as Carson Lovin, assisted by Tommy Reslock, found the net. At 13:06, the home team took a 4-1 advantage thanks to a power-play goal by Jacob Martin with an assist by Matthew Besse. Down by three at the second intermission, West Fargo scored at 0:25 to make the 4-2 with a Sterling Morin goal.
From there, it was all Devils Lake. Lovin found the net at 1:12 with assists by Reslock and Besse. Just 40 seconds later, Besse, assisted by Martin, scored at 1:53 making the score 6-2.
Johnson got the Firebirds back on the board with an assist by Matthew Boren at 5:42. The first three goals of the period were during power-play opportunities. At 12:31, Craig Peteron, assisted by Reslock and Kale Miller, scored the final goal of the night. Devils Lake earned the 8-2 EDC triumph. Ness, earning another win between the pipes, finished with 34 saves. Stokke noted that one key to success was adjusting to the West Fargo game plan.
"They tried to chip the puck up the middle and get odd-man rushes," the coach said. "Once we figured that out, we set our winger on top and took aways those passes." Tuesday's victory was another successful night at Burdick Arena. It's a good sign after struggling at home a season last year, the coach said. "We had issues here at home last year and this group has changed that around. We have really taken care of our home rink and that's great to see."
The Firebirds are set to play Thursday on the road against Grand Forks Red River.
"They are always a tough opponent," the coach said.