Eback’s pair of goals leads Firebird girls

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Amanda McMullen (16) battles for control of the puck during Saturday’s game against Mandan at Burdick Arena. The Firebirds used three goals in the second period to overcome the Braves and post a 4-1 win.

Samantha Eback had a day most high school students should never have to experience. But, in the end, the talented junior delivered a big statement.

Eback scored a pair of goals, including an impressive end-to-end skating display that resulted in the third goal of the period for Devils Lake as the Firebirds overcame a 1-0 deficit after the first period to defeat Mandan 4-1 on Saturday at Burdick Arena.

The win improves Devils Lake to 2-13-1 in the league and 2-14-1 overall and leaves the Firebirds still alive for a state tournament berth.

Devils Lake closes out the regular season Friday and Saturday when they travel to Bismarck to take on the Blizzard on Friday and tangle with Mandan the following night.

A sweep of those two games, along with a loss and a tie by Williston, could propel Devils Lake into the state tournament later this month.

“I got a little frustrated,” said Eback, who earlier in the day attended the funeral of nine-year-old Megan LaMotte. “In the program, it said she wanted to grow up and play girls hockey ... that broke my heart and I took it out on the puck.”

Kayla Sackenreuter opened the scoring for the Firebirds with a goal at 3:25 of the second period to tie the game.

Mandan’s 1-0 lead after the first period marked the first time all season the Braves had led in a game.

But, Kya Knoke put Devils Lake in front 2-1 with a goal at 9:06 of the period.

Marina Bocknecht and Jordan Holtz, respectively, were credited with an assist on each of the first two goals.

Then, it was Eback. She took the puck in the Devils Lake end and skated virtually untouched along the side before skating in on Mandan netminder Dani Taylor and firing a shot into the net for a 3-1 lead at 15:19.

Eback added another unassisted goal at 15:25 of the final period.

Mariah LaMotte stopped 25 of 26 shots in the game for the Firebirds, including 11 over the final two periods after being blisted by 15 shots in the opening stanza and allowing just the one goal.

“It was a nice way to end the season at home and to have that memory of a win in the final home game,” Devils Lake coach Warren Michael said.

Journal Photo/Ray Maloney

Devils Lake’s Amanda McMullen (16) battles for control of the puck during Saturday’s game against Mandan at Burdick Arena. The Firebirds used three goals in the second period to overcome the Braves and post a 4-1 win.