Firebirds take down Knight Riders to split season series

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake’s Abbey Reule (in red) collides with a Grand Forks Knight Rider player during the first period of a NDHSAA girls hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

Devils Lake girls hockey team, who practiced outdoors on Monday in preparation for Saturday’s Hockey Day: North Dakota, transferred that open air euphoria inside on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and saw it pay dividends.

Elle Black’s goal in the first period was enough as the Firebirds got the 1-0 win over Grand Forks from Burdick Arena. The Firebirds, who lost to the Knight Riders by three goals in the previous meeting on Dec. 8, split the seasons series and is now in a three-way tie for fourth with the Knight Riders, Bismarck (which defeated the Firebirds Saturday) and Mandan.

“It was a very hard fought battle. We played our game, scored a goal early and came out on top,” said Firebirds head coach Rob McIvor.

Black’s goal, which came just under four minutes and was assisted by Kaylie Klemetsrud, was shot from straightaway, zipping past Grand Forks goalie Emilee Ziegler for the goal that proved to be enough for the Firebirds who were playing their second game in three days.

“We didn’t play like that,” McIvor said when asked if there was pressure to hold on to a one-point lead. “We got the lead, I said that I wanted to increase it and didn’t but at the same we were able to keep it.

“Scoring early did give us some jump, absolutely,” he said.

The Firebirds (7-5) had opportunities to add on to their advantage, especially in the third period when Abbey Reule’s shot within the eighth minute went high. The Firebirds outshot Grand Forks 10-4 over the final 17 minutes, 24-15 for the game.

Molly Black finished with perfect save percentage, getting 15 saves on 15 shots.

The Knight Riders fell to 7-6.

The Firebirds will travel to Fargo to take on Davies from SCHEELS Arena before completing the weekend trek to Jamestown for an outdoor contest as part of the state’s first ever Hockey Day. The Firebirds will play Jamestown with the puck scheduled to  drop at 11 a.m.

“I wanted to get the game on the schedule last year, if for nothing else the seniors could have that experience. We didn’t get it last year but we got it this year and I’m glad because this group of seniors is really good and they deserve to have this experience,” McIvor said.

“It’s unique, it’s fun and we’re going to have fun. We’re going to try to win but at the same time I want kids to be realize that it’s about your experiences; getting to play outdoor hockey which doesn’t happen a lot anymore.”

The games, which will be held at University of Jamestown’s Allen Field, will begin on Friday with Jamestown hosting Minot State at 7 p.m. before the high schools take the ice Saturday morning including both Blue Jay boys and girls, Bismarck boys, Fargo Sheyenne boys and Fargo South/Shanley boys.

Chris Harris can be reached at