Late in the regular season, the Grand Forks and Devils Lake girls hockey teams turned heads by sending a pair of games to shootout.
The KnightRiders beat Fargo North-South -- one the of the top three teams in the state -- in a 20-skater shootout, while Devils Lake lost the shootout to Fargo Davies, the state's top program that doesn't have a loss all season.
As the North Dakota state tournament opens Thursday in Fargo, Grand Forks hopes these results are an indication that the underdogs have a fighting chance.
No. 5 Grand Forks (11-10-2) plays No. 4 Devils Lake (14-8-1) in the state quarterfinals at approximately 1:15 p.m. in Farmers Union Arena.
Grand Forks and Devils Lake split during the regular season.
"Whether we want to take it as a big pro, or a con, we've stolen some big games and shown we can play against any team, but we've also lost some games that maybe we shouldn't have," Grand Forks coach Alex Hedlund said. "We need to play consistent hockey. We can play with most of the teams in the state."
The KnightRiders are led by all-conference freshman goalie Kaylee Baker, who has a 92.1 save percentage.
Offensively, Grand Forks is paced by sophomore forward Kylie Autrey (12 goals, 17 assists), junior forward Morgan Stenseth (16 goals, 10 assists) and junior forward Shaley Richards (15 goals, 9 assists).
Grand Forks' four seniors were on the 2017 team that took a No. 6 seed to the state championship game. In 2017, the KnightRiders beat West Fargo in the quarterfinals after losing 8-0 and 6-0 during the regular season.
Outside of Grand Forks' seniors, the rest of the KnightRiders haven't won on the opening day of the tournament. Grand Forks has lost in the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019.
"Eight teams believe they can win," Hedlund said. "That's the special thing, but also the scary thing about the parity in the state, especially the last couple of years. It had been the Bismarck show. Bismarck is still very dangerous and capable of winning but there are other teams showing flashes. West Fargo, other than maybe one or two games, has challenged everybody and they're the eight seed. It just shows anybody who shows up, plays hard and believes can win this."