Mistakes costly as Riders defeat Firebird icers 2-0

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Jimmy Goulding (6) takes a faceoff against Red River’s Brock Dahl (9) in Saturday’s game between the two schools at Burdick Arena. The Roughriders made a pair of first period goals hold up in a 2-0 win over the Firebirds.

For two full periods and a large part of a third Devils Lake skated toe to toe with Grand Forks Red River. But two small mistakes turned out to be nothing short of huge as the Roughriders scored a 2-0 win over the Firebirds on Saturday at Burdick Arena.

"(Red River) took it to us," said Devils Lake coach David Zimmerman after watching his team fall to 4-4-4 in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

"We are not doing the little things we should be doing," he added.

So close did the Riders and Firebirds skate that it took a pair of rarities to allow the visitors to leave town with the win.

The first came just over six minutes into the game when Red River scored on a penalty shot -- the second in two straight games for Devils Lake. Fargo Davies capitalized on a penalty shot just two days earlier as the Eagles and Firebirds skated to a 4-4 overtime tie in Fargo.

On Saturday it was Red River's turn.

Rider Jon Lizotte skated in on Devils Lake goaltender Sawyer Diseth and swiped at the puck which Diseth managed to easily deflect.

But, the referee whistled Devils Lake's Keaton Thompson for tripping on the play and awarded Lizotte the rare penalty shot. The Red River sophomore got the best of Diseth and beat him top shelf to put Red River on the board with 10:29 to go in the first period.

The Roughriders added to their lead with three minutes to go in the frame when Matt Verke uncorked a shot from out front that skipped over Diseth's glove and into the net to put the Riders in front 2-0.

"Those two goals simply killed us," Zimmerman said.

That was all the scoring in the game and all the tallies the Roughriders would need.

Devils Lake had its chances in each of the three periods. But the Firebirds came up short time after time.

"We can't finish off plays," Zimmerman said. "Sometimes I believe we want to do too much with the puck instead of making something happen with it."

It was the second loss for the Firebirds in the last seven games. Devils Lake is 1-2-4 during that span that has prevented the Firebirds from moving higher in the league standings and has left them 9-5-4 on the season after opening the year with six straight wins.

"We've got to find out what's important to us," Zimmerman said. "We'll find out Tuesday when we go to (Fargo) South."

GF Red River    2   0   0   —   2

Devils Lake    0   0   0   —   0

First Period

1. GF Red River, Jon Lizotte (unassisted) (ps), 10:29. 2. GF Red River, Matt Verke (unassisted), 13:59.

Second Period

No scoring

Third Period

No scoring

Goaltender saves: GF Red River - Bryan Nies – 9-6-5—20, Devils Lake - Sawyer Diseth – 5-10-11—26. Penalties: GF Red River 9 minors , Devils Lake 6 minors.