FARGO — Fargo Davies dominated the puck as it skated by Devils Lake and into the state title game for the first time ever.
The Eagles defeated the Firebirds 2-0 in the North Dakota girls state hockey tournament semifinals Friday at Scheels Arena. The championship game is at 4:30 p.m. Saturday back at Scheels Arena.
“We wanted to play 200 feet from our net,” Davies head coach Josh Issertell said. “We knew it was going to be tough. They have a great goaltender and a great team. We were focused and executed.”
Olivia Opheim scored both goals for the Eagles, netting a power-play goal in the first period and adding another in the third.
She knocked in the Eagles first goal in traffic at the 7 minutes, 14 seconds mark of the first period. Maddy Green shot from the point and Opheim crashed in and poked the rebound into the net through the crowd in the crease for a power-play goal.
Then midway through the third period, she skated unimpeded right up the slot and fired a wide-open wrister to the top shelf past the goalie.
“We used special teams to our advantage,” Issertell said. “A kid made a play on a rebound and it takes that type of shot on the second goal to beat (Devils Lake goalie Molly Black). So I’m glad she was able to cash in for us.”
Black made life tough on the Eagles all game and had her second strong showing of the tournament. She stopped 32 shots against Davies one day after making 49 saves in a quadruple-overtime win over Grand Forks in the quarterfinals.
“We knew that Devils lake has a great goaltender and they play solid defensively,” Issertell said. “They have skill and can finish if you give them a chance. I thought we really had our feet moving and our legs going and pressured them.”
Davies' defense dominated play, keeping the puck out of their zone for the majority for the game and staying on the attack. Nearly every time the Firebirds crossed the blue line, an Eagles defender was there to poke it away and send it back up the ice.
“We focus on limiting odd-man rushes and keeping people to the outside,” Issertell said. “We did a good job of that. Our forwards applied a lot of back pressure and that helps as well. We have kids back checking really hard, and defensemen attacking and making passes out of our zone and we can stay on the attack.”
The coach wanted to test Devils Lake’s legs early on, knowing they were coming off a seven-period game in the quarterfinals. He was impressed with the Firebirds' stamina to recover and come back for the semifinal.
“We were hoping that they wouldn’t have legs,” Issertell said. “But they’ve got some great, talented kids and I thought they had legs. Part of it was to stick to the process, stick to the plan and hope that over time we could wear them out.”
FIRST: 1, FD, Opheim (Green, Johnson) 7:14 pp.
SECOND: No scoring.
THIRD: 2, FD, Opheim (unassisted), 2:51.
SAVES: FD, Cook 3-5-2—10; DL, Black 12-11-9—32