Firebirds rock Bottineau in opener

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
Journal Photos
Firebird junior Landyn Swenson wins a faceoff Tuesday against Bottineau-Rugby at home.

Journal Staff Report

The Bottineau/Rugby hockey team sits three spots higher than Devils Lake in the 2014-2015 North Dakota High School hockey coaches poll.

On Tuesday evening at Burdick arena, however, Devils Lake didn’t resemble an underdog or the 14th best team in the state. From beginning to end, an experienced Firebird squad controlled the action against Bottineau/Rugby in the season openers for both teams.

In the end, the home team walked away with an impressive 10-5 win over the Braves. For Jens Stokke, the triumph was quite a way to open his head coaching career at Devils Lake High School.

He noted that his team was eager to make a statement in its first game of the season.

“That’s our goal,” Stokke told the Journal. “This is a motivated group.”

One of the keys for the Firebirds coming into the game was to play aggressive and force action from the start.

“We wanted to come right at them,” the coach noted. “Our plan was to take it to them and not wait around. We got after it from the start.”

Devils Lake opened the game in a huge way as Jordan Swanson got the team on the board just a minute and three seconds into the game. That was just the start as Logan Kraft scored at 6:55 to give his team a 2-0 lead.

The Braves answered back with a goal of their own two minutes later, but the Firebirds didn’t let it affect them.

Kraft, with an assist by Alec Moser, Landen Hall, with assists by Landyn Swenson and Swanson, and Ryyan Reule, with assists by Todd Hernandez and Drew Aronson, each scored to give Devils Lake a commanding 5-1 lead after one period.

Bottineau-Rugby opened the second with a goal in the first minute. Devils Lake once again just pushed forward. Goals by Todd Hernandez, with an assist by Kraft, Ruele, assist by Kraft, and Matthew Boren, with assists by Swenson and Swanson, gave the Firebirds an 8-2 lead.

The Braves scored at 12:41, but Devils Lake got the last laugh in the second period as Cole Thompson found the net to give the home squad a 9-3 lead.

Bottineau-Rugby controlled the action at times in the third scoring goals at 7:43 and 11:45. Devils Lake closed the game with a scoring play by Swenson and an assist by Thompson making the final 10-5.

Holden Kurtz earned the win in the net for Devils Lake. The senior finished with 16 saves in two periods. Wyatt Ness completed the final period tallying six saves.

Kraft and Reule had two goals each.

Overall, it was a solid win for the Firebirds. There are, however, things to improve on, the coach said.

“We need more discipline on our backside defense,” Stokke noted. “They had too many odd-man breakaway opportunities. That’s something we need to improve on.”

On Saturday, Devils Lake takes on perennial powerhouse Grand Forks Red River. Stokke notes that the matchup will be a different type of game.

“It’s going to come down to those little things. Red River is always tough and this game is going to show us where we are at,” he said. “Our guys have something to prove. They are hungry.”