Davies gets revenge against 6-time defending champ Bismarck to reach state title game
Fargo Davies avenged last year's state-championship loss to six-time defending champ Bismarck in the North Dakota girls hockey state semifinals Friday.
GRAND FORKS — For the first time since 2012, the Bismarck Blizzard won’t be playing in the North Dakota girls hockey state championship game. Fargo Davies made sure of that Friday.
The Eagles attempted to dethrone Bismarck a year ago in the state championship, but were unsuccessful. They watched the Blizzard grab their sixth straight state title, while they were crowned runners-up.
Davies tapped into that feeling to down Bismarck 6-1 in Friday’s semifinals at Ralph Engelstad Arena. For the second time this year, Davies handed Bismarck (16-4-0) its biggest loss to a North Dakota team since 2012. The Eagles (20-4-1) beat the Blizzard by the same margin earlier this season.
“I’m just happy and I’m proud for our kids,” Davies head coach Josh Issertell said. “A little bit of relief obviously, but this has been our goal all year. Get back and try to write a different story. Proud of the girls, and we’re looking forward to competing tomorrow.”
Davies, the No. 2 seed, will play top-seeded Fargo North-South (19-2-0) in the championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Ralph. Both regular-season meetings between the familiar foes ended in shootouts, with the Spruins winning both.
“Honestly, it feels better than last year because they beat us last year for the state title,” Davies senior goalie Kennedy Cook said. “To finally knock them off is just an amazing feeling that I can’t even describe. We know how it felt last year and we didn’t want to feel that again. That motivated us a lot.”
The Eagles didn’t want to leave anything to chance Friday. Last year’s outcome was still fresh in the team’s mind. Davies lost just two players to graduation last season. Five different scorers accounted for Davies’ six goals.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Cook said of reaching the championship. “I'm just extremely proud of my team and the effort and hard work that we put in.”
Cook tallied 22 saves Friday. She scooped up rebounds and had a couple show-stopping glove saves. She held Bismarck scoreless for more than 45 minutes before giving up her only goal in the third period.
“I wanted the shutout really bad,” she said. “But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because we’re still going to the championship.”
It was a fast-paced affair from puck drop. Davies senior Kaia Johnson opened the scoring five minutes into the first period. Johnson collected a rebound at the hash marks and went top shelf for an early 1-0 lead.
Bismarck was called for cross-checking about three minutes into the second period, its third penalty of the game. Johnson added her second score of the day with a one-timer on the power play.
Less than three minutes later, Davies notched its third unanswered goal, thanks to a lucky bounce. A Kaylie Zimmerman shot from the point hit a Bismarck defender’s shoulder and deflected into the net.
Josie Froslie capped the second-period onslaught with a minute and a half remaining in the period. Morgan Sauvageu chipped a pass up to Froslie at center ice. Froslie cut down the ice, edged a defender in the slot, moved the puck to her backhand and stuffed it into the net.
“I thought we were coming through the neutral zone a little bit cleaner in the second period,” Issertell said. “It was just smart decisions with the puck, making the easy play at times and quick releases.”
Bismarck trailed 4-0 entering the third period. Penalties continued to cost the Blizzard, who sent two players to the box in the first two and a half minutes. Davies and its potent offense wasn’t done yet. The Eagles got their final two goals on the ensuing power plays.
“We have a ton of respect for Bismarck,” Issertell said. “What they’ve accomplished at the state tournament the last decade, pretty much, has been unbelievable. You never take anything for granted against that team. A ton of respect.
“It’s sweet to get a little payback and to do something that no other team has done in a bit. But again, you tip your cap to them, and we move forward. We're just happy to be moving on.”
After a two-period scoring drought, Brenna Curl got Bismarck on the board. She walked the puck in from the boards and got a quick shot off at the face-off dot that went straight to the back of the net.
The Blizzard face Grand Forks in the third-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
FIRST PERIOD: 1, FD, Johnson (Opheim), 4:57.
SECOND PERIOD: 2, FD, Johnson (Kracke, Zimmerman), 4:17. 3, FD, Zimmerman, 6:59. 4, FD, Froslie (Sauvageau), 16:32.
THIRD PERIOD: 5, FD, Sauvageau (Autrey), 2:57. 6, Kracke (Opheim, Johnson), 3:18. 7, B, Curl (Krikorian, Schmidt), 11:44.
SAVES: FD, Cook 9-7-6—22. B, Hellman 9-7-3—19. B, Skjeret, 0-0-3—3.