Davies girls score 3 third-period goals to advance to third straight state title game
On the Davies' 26th shot of the game, Morgan Sauvageau finally cracked the scoreboard for her 23rd of the season and the Eagles soared from there
FARGO — Three seems to be a lucky number for the Fargo Davies girls hockey team.
That's because the Eagles used three third-period goals to top West Fargo United 3-0 to advance to their third consecutive state championship game in the North Dakota state girls hockey tournament semifinals at Scheels Arena Friday afternoon.
After two periods where nobody was willing to budge, the final frame meant that much more in what was a scoreless tie through 34 minutes with a trip to the title game at stake.
After fending off back-to-back United power plays, Davies senior Morgan Sauvageau was the one to finally crack the scoreboard with 7:46 remaining, capitalizing on a United defensive zone turnover and taking the puck to the net before squeezing it in past United sophomore goaltender Maggie Seeley.
Considering how the game had played out in the two periods prior, with frustrations of finding the net growing for both sides, Sauvageau said it was one of the biggest goals of her career.
"Honestly it probably is," she said. "Because without that goal, we probably wouldn't have had the momentum to finish out the game and get to the state championship."
Sauvageau's goal first went under review as the net had become dislodged just as the puck was crossing the goal line. However, the officials didn't take long to confirm it as a good goal.
The momentum was definitely present after the first goal, with Davies senior forward Olivia Opheim adding another off of a rebound just 35 seconds later. Senior forward Taylor Klassen had the assist.
Less than two minutes later, Opheim added the dagger on a wrister that beat Seeley glove side, with the assist coming from senior forward Kylie Autrey.
Sauvageau said the energy on the bench definitely flipped after the first goal, which ultimately helped lead to the next two from Opheim.
"After I scored, we were all hyped up and we didn't even realize the goal was under review," Sauvageau said. "We were just saying no matter the outcome, we just wanted to keep trying and keep working hard."
With the win, No. 1 seed Davies improved to 24-1 and returns to its third straight championship game. The Eagles will try to defend its 2021 state title by taking on No. 3 seed Fargo North-South at 4:45 p.m. Saturday back at Scheels Arena in a rematch of last year's championship.
No. 4 seed West Fargo United (15-9-1) will play in the third-place game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Scheels Arena.
"It's very exciting," Sauvageau said of returning to the state championship game with a chance to repeat. "We've had a target on our back for all of last year and this year, so being in the championship game again is really exciting."
Davies head coach Josh Issertell said he knew to win such a tightly-contested game through the first two periods, it was going to take a close play in front of the net.
"Whoever got the first one, it was going to be a big momentum swing," he said. "That's obvious, but we just kept telling them, keep sticking with the process and it's going to be a 50-50 battle, it's going to be something in and around 6 feet from the net. It just so happened that there was a turnover and we got a strong walk and found a way to put one in.
"There was a sigh of relief, but I think the biggest thing was that our kids were ready for the moment. When it happened, we just kept playing the way that we know how. We got another turnover and found a way to put that one in the back of the net. It was a play right around the crease, one of those mucky, dirty, gritty goals, and then again we found a way with the third one to make a nice play."
Final shots were 32-17 in favor of Davies, with Eagles junior goaltender Noelle Lewis stopping all 17 shots for the goose egg. Seeley stopped 29 shots for United.
Davies went 0 for 1 on the power play while United went 0 for 4.
Issertell said the mentality going into Saturday's state championship game is one thing at a time.
"One day at a time is what we've been telling them," he said. "One shift at a time, one period at a time, one game, and that's no different (Saturday). We're going to get a battle no matter who we face in that game. It's going to be an all out bloodbath battle. So we're going to have to bring the compete. The one thing about this group that I love is that they've found different ways to get it done all year long. They all haven't been Picassos or Rembrandts, but when the going gets tough we've found a way to get it done and we'll bring that experience and that drive and hopefully get it done (Saturday), as well."
FIRST PERIOD: No scoring plays.
SECOND PERIOD: No scoring plays.
THIRD PERIOD: 1, FD, Sauvageau (unassisted), 9:14. 2, FD, Opheim (Klassen), 9:49. 3, FD, Opheim (Autrey), 11:40.
SAVES: WFU, Seeley 12-9-8—29. FD, Lewis 4-6-7—17.