In double OT thriller, Fargo North-South downs Fargo Davies for North Dakota title
North-South's Rylee Bartz scores both goals, including game-winner in double overtime.
FARGO — Every time Rylee Bartz touched the puck in Saturday's North Dakota girls hockey state championship game, the crowd swelled with anticipation.
Bartz scored seven of the Spruins' 10 tournament goals en route to the state title game against Fargo Davies. It was only fitting the junior forward scored the double-overtime goal that won the program its first state title as a co-op.
Bartz carried the puck down the ice, danced a defender to get Davies goalie Noelle Lewis alone, and sent the puck through her five-hole to end the game 9:39 into the second overtime period.
The Spruins claimed the state title with a 2-1 double overtime win over Davies on Saturday at Scheels Arena.
"I took it down the ice and shot as hard as I could through the five-hole and it trickled in," Bartz said.
The next thing Bartz knew, she was at the bottom of a dogpile. Aside from Saturday's championship, only one other girls hockey title game has gone into overtime since 2003, the first NDHSAA sponsored state tournament for the sport. Bismarck edged Fargo North 1-0 in triple overtime in 2006.
As standalone programs, Fargo North won five titles and Fargo South two. But Saturday's win was the first for the Spruins as a co-op. Davies grinded out a 3-2 win over North-South in last year's title game to capture its first championship in program history.
"It's something incredible right now," Spruins head coach Parker Metz said. "It's kind of bittersweet. We lose a lot this year. And with this group, what we've gone through, Haley (Barvels) and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Bartz scored both goals for North-South, which handed Davies its first loss to an in-state opponent all season. Spruins goalie Savannah Wuitschick stopped 39 of 40 shots.
Metz's team lived by a motto of "bend, don't break" this season. The Spruins played true to that in the title game.
It was survival mode. It was back and forth. Mistakes were made on both sides continually; the lights were flickering on and off," Metz said. "Two months ago, they probably would've shut down and been like, 'what's going on?'"
A scoreless first period set the tone for the matchup. Both teams exchanged bursts of momentum as they waged a defensive battle.
It looked like Davies would get on the scoreboard six minutes in when Wuitschick thought she had the puck but didn't. The shot, fired off Morgan Sauvageau's stick, danced along the goal line before a Spruins defender batted it out.
Davies had a narrow 9-6 shot advantage after the first 17 minutes, but North-South came out flying in the second period. Bartz scored 40 seconds into the period — her eighth goal of the tournament — that gave North-South a 1-0 lead it would hold onto for about seven minutes.
Sauvageau netted a tying goal for Davies on the power play at the 7:43 mark of the period. She walked in from the half wall and rifled off a shot that sailed over Wuitschick's shoulder.
Davies was shut out on four of five power plays, including a five-minute advantage after North-South's Becca Mathison was handed a checking-from-behind five-minute major and game disqualification 11:13 into the third period.
"Penalty kill for us is sometimes a benefit. It opens up ice," Metz said. "We've got really good skaters that are able to utilize that open space. There's times we did fall back because we were gassed. We were just tired."
Davies outshot North-South 5-1 in the first eight-minute overtime period. The first opportunity after regulation came six minutes into the second OT on a Davies 2-on-1 when Olivia Opheim fed Kylie Autrey for a one-timer, but Wuitschick stuck her stick out to keep the Eagles off the board.
"It took our whole team to do it," Bartz said. "We all came together and it's just amazing."
Metz didn't see Bartz bury the game-winning goal. He was getting the next line ready.
"All of a sudden hands flew up and I was getting hugged from behind," Metz said. "I was like, 'what's going on?' and I looked at the scoreboard. It was mass hysteria. Everyone's ballistic."
Davies, which dropped just one game during the regular season to Moorhead, ended the season at 24-2. Davies beat North-South in both regular-season meetings by scores of 4-1 and 4-2.
Bartz was named the Tournament MVP. Bartz, Sauvageau and Opheim were named to the all-tournament team, as well as West Fargo United's Erin Nowacki and Maggie Seeley and Jamestown's Alexis Kirkeby. Sauvageau was the NDHSCA Powerade Senior Athlete of the Year in girls hockey.
FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.
SECOND PERIOD: 1, FNS, Bartz (Kalbus, Emineth), 0:40. 2, FD, Sauvageau (Sampson, Vetter), 7:43.
THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.
FIRST OVERTIME: No scoring.
SECOND OVERTIME: 3, FNS, Bartz, 9:39.
SAVES: FD, Lewis, 6-10-9-6—31. FNS, Wuitschick 9-11-7-12—39.