Third period goals lift Blue Jays over Firebirds

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Jamestown goalie Riley Gerhardt stops a shot attempt by Devils Lake's Parker Swanson (4) during a NDHSAA hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in Devils Lake.

Devils Lake was three minutes away from having an overtime period against Western Dakota Association opponent Jamestown. But a Tommy Falk goal with over two minutes remaining ended those ideas.

The Blue Jays were able to turn an interference penalty against Cody Zahn into what proved to be the winning goal as Jamestown escaped Burdick Arena with the 4-2 victory over the Firebirds in Devils Lake’s home opener Tuesday, Dec. 3.

“I was a lot happier,” said Firebirds head coach Jens Stokke. “That was two different teams I saw from Bottineau to here so we’re definitely moving in the right direction even though the scoreboard didn’t go in our direction.”

After a four point shutout loss in their season opener against the Braves on Nov. 26, the Firebirds (0-2) opened to a 2-0 advantage. Nate Grafsgaard scored 52 seconds into the second period off of assists from Jace Thomas and Jeremiah Hill. Exactly 14 minutes later, Christian VanSteenvoort’s goal from Carter Schwab and Justin Blake’s assist had the Firebirds ahead by two.

The Blue Jays (1-0) ended the period with a goal by Hunter Nelson to cut Jamestown’s deficit to one into the second intermission.

“Our intensity wasn’t there [in the first period] so I was just saying, ‘hey our intensity, we have to pick it up,” Stokke said about his intermission speech after the first period in which he kept his team in the locker room seconds before the start of the period.

The Firebirds, who had only nine shot attempts in the first 17 minutes, took 12 shots in the second period.

Stokke continued, “‘We have to be a better hockey team. We got to be a better hockey team. We got to fight for those pucks and make sure we’re making smart plays with the puck.’ They must have listened a little bit.”

The Blue Jays tied the game off of a goal by Corey Nelson less than four minutes into the third period and the score remained locked at 2 until Falk’s go-ahead goal in the 14th minute. Jace Thompson added an empty net goal with 15 seconds left for the final tally.

Aiden Moser had a chance to give the Firebirds the lead during a power play with 3:17 left in regulation but his shot from straight center sailed high.

“We had a couple of bad penalties there at the end and if you take away those penalties, the game may end differently,” said Stokke.

“Obviously you never want to lose a hockey game but thankfully they’re not EDC games so on the good side of it we’re moving the right way.” 

Riley Gerhardt had 28 saves for Jamestown and Braden Schmitz had 39 saves for the Firebirds.

Jamestown at Devils Lake summary

Jamestown 0 1 3 — 4

Devils Lake 0 2 0 — 2

Second period_1, Devils Lake, Grafsgaard  (Thomas, Hill), :52. 2, Devils Lake, VanSteenvoort (Schwab, Blake), 14:52. 3, Jamestown, H. Nelson (Stockert, Cummings), 15:21.

Third period_4, Jamestown, C. Nelson (Falk, McLachlan), 3:54. 5, Jamestown, Falk (Stockert), 14:36. 6, Jamestown, Thompson, 16:45.

Shots on goal_Jamestown 14-12-17_43. Devils Lake 9-12-9_30.

Power-play Opportunities_Jamestown 1 of 3; Devils Lake 0 of 4.

Goalies_Jamestown, Gerhardt 9-10-9 (30 shots-28 saves). Devils Lake, Schmitz 14-11-14 (42 shots-39 saves).

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com.