Experienced Fargo Davies looks to defend state hockey title ‘one game at a time’
Davies (22-1) begins its pursuit of a second state championship Thursday, Feb. 24, at Farmers Union Insurance Center at Scheels Arena
FARGO — Fargo Davies entered this season in unfamiliar territory as the defending girls hockey state champion. It took seven seasons and two state championship game appearances for Davies to capture its first state title last year.
While they may have had a target on their backs all season, not much has changed for the Eagles, who are still as hungry as they were last year.
“We still have the same dedication and desire to win,” senior defenseman Kaylie Zimmerman said.
No longer in search of the program’s first crown, the Eagles enter this year’s state hockey tournament with a different objective — defend their title.
Davies (22-1) begins its pursuit of a second state championship Thursday, Feb. 24, at Farmers Union Insurance Center at Scheels Arena. The Eagles are the top overall seed for the tournament and play No. 8 seed Grand Forks (9-14) at 11 a.m. in the quarterfinals. Davies won both regular-season meetings over the KnightRiders by a combined score of 8-2.
“We’ve been working for this the whole season,” senior forward Morgan Sauvageau said. “I think we're just excited for the week ahead and to play some state hockey.”
Davies is unbeaten against in-state opponents this season. The team’s only loss is a 4-2 setback to Moorhead on Jan. 4.
The Eagles are averaging 4.12 goals per game and have two of the state’s top five point scorers in Sauvageau and Taylor Severson. Sauvageau is the team’s leading scorer with 21 goals and 47 points in 23 games, the second-most in the state. Severson, a junior forward, is second in points with 39 (19 goals-20 assists).
“No game was easy. We knew we were going to get everyone’s best all year long,” Zimmerman said of being the defending state champions.
Zimmerman netted the state-championship winning goal for the Eagles, who grinded out a 3-2 win over Fargo North-South in the 2021 title game.
Davies graduated two of its top five point scorers and starting goaltender from last year’s team, but returned a solid core of players with veteran leadership. Zimmerman is the team’s top-point producer from the blue line. She has the second-most assists (23) and leads all Davies defensemen with 28 points. Seniors make up four of the team’s top five scorers.
“We definitely really want it,” Severson said of a repeat. “I think our group has a lot of excitement building off of last year, especially since a lot of us are returners.”
Junior goalie Noelle Lewis is 21-1-0 with a 1.19 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 23 games this season.
If Davies wants to make another title run, it’ll have to start in the defensive zone, Zimmerman said.
“Closing down shooting lanes and creating layers,” Zimmerman said. “It all starts in the defensive zone; closing it down there and then creating offense and playing strong and with heart.”
Davies took care of business in regulation in all but one game this season. The team’s lone overtime game was against Bismarck last Saturday and ended in a shootout, with the Eagles coming out on top. The Blizzard are the No. 2 seed for the state tournament and beat Davies in the 2020 state championship game.
While the top-seeded Eagles are in the hunt for another crown, they know it won’t come easy.
“Teams are always going to give you their best and you're just gonna have to show up every game and work hard for it,” said Severson, a captain. “Nothing's gonna be handed to us. We know that and we try to always go out there and play every game to the best of our ability and not underestimate anybody.”
While blizzard conditions postponed or canceled a slew of activities early this week, Davies has been able to practice ahead of the state tournament.
“It’s a little bit scary, but you get the chance to be there and you work your hardest because knowing the weather, you don’t know if you will get tomorrow,” Zimmerman said of the ice time.
Fargo North-South locked up the No. 3 seed and will open the tournament against No. 6 seed Minot at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. West Fargo United is the fourth seed and is set to face No. 5 seed Mandan at 1:15 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
While all quarterfinal games for the girls tournament will be at Farmers Union Insurance Center, semifinals will be played at Scheels Arena. The championship is slated for 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the main rink.