The Packers boys hockey team was looking for something - anything - to snap them out of their recent funk. After winning their first three games of the season, West Fargo went the other direction and dropped three straight before tying Fargo South on Dec. 19.
The Packers found the answer at last week's Fergus Falls Holiday Shootout, where they took first place after tying Detroit Lakes 5-5 the first night (West Fargo won 6-5 after the game went to a shootout) before beating Fergus Falls 6-2 and Mankato West 11-2.
"Since we made the adjustments with our lines, everything seems to be clicking," said Tim Capouch, West Fargo boys hockey coach. "Everyone is starting to play good."
Leading the Packers (1-3-1 EDC, 5-3-2 overall) were defenseman Brandon Tendeland and forward Charlie Torrance, who each chalked up eight points for the tournament. Kyle Shoman racked up seven points, while Derek Sand, Jeremy Johnson and Dusty Jonasson each had six. Of Johnson's six points, five were from goals.
The efforts of Jonasson, who had a hat trick during the championship game against Mankato West, haven't gone unnoticed by West Fargo coaches.
"He's starting to play like a captain leader," Capouch said.
But even with the solid performance at the nonconference tournament, the Packers still have work to do if they want to compete on the same level as the rest of the East Region.
"We need to show up and just play three complete periods," Capouch said. "We did that the last two games (of the tournament). During the Detroit Lakes game, we took half of the third period off and it cost us going into overtime.
"We have to play 17-minute periods and we have to play the whole game."
The Packers played at Fargo Shanley on Tuesday night, but the results weren't in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. Next up for West Fargo is a road trip Saturday, Jan. 9, to face Devils Lake (3-2-1, 6-3-1) at 3:15 p.m.
Girls hockey stays flawless
The West Fargo girls hockey team is on a roll with no signs of stopping.
The Packers stay undefeated after visiting Jamestown on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and beating the Bluejays 4-0 on their home ice.
With the win, West Fargo (7-0-0) is the only remaining North Dakota team without a loss.
The Packers aggressively attacked the net, racking up 16 first-period shots compared to only five from the Bluejays (1-4-0). Yet, heading into the second period, both teams remained scoreless.
Katelyn Peterson sparked West Fargo's scoring drive with a shorthanded goal nearly nine minutes into the second period. When it was all said and done, four different Packers snuck the puck past Bluejays goalie Carrissa Finck, who made 43 saves on the night.
Meanwhile, West Fargo's Andrea Klug stopped 17 shots for her third shutout of the season. Klug currently leads the state with a 0.44 goal-against average and a 97.1 save percentage.
The Packers scored back-to-back unassisted goals in the third period from Melanie Sopp and overall points leader Kacie Johnson, who currently is ranked first in the state with 23 points. Katlyn Springer scored West Fargo's other goal in the second period.
The Packers should have fresh legs after a two-week break from competition. Next on the agenda, Devils Lake (1-5-1) pays a visit to West Fargo on Saturday, Jan. 9. The puck drops at 2 p.m.
Boys basketball splits
After starting the season 3-0, the West Fargo boys basketball team was handed its first loss against undefeated Fargo North in a game that came down to the final seconds.
Coming off the loss, the Packers (2-1, 4-2) were hoping to rebound against Bismarck Century (2-1, 5-1) last Monday. Instead, the Patriots finished the first half with a 10-point lead before rolling to a 56-47 win.
So, when West Fargo had to face undefeated, defending State Champion Mandan the very next day, the prospect of ending the skid looked bleak.
But win they did, as the Packers shook off their recent stumbles and raged against the Braves. West Fargo led by ten points at the half before going on to win 58-53 and handing Mandan (2-0, 4-1) its first loss of the season.
Leading the Packers against Bismarck Century was Chris Williams, who tallied 12 points and was 5-of-7 from the field. Austin Nelson and Spencer Flaten each had 11 points.
Against Mandan, Justin Schock scored a team-high 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Chase Farkas put up 12 points and went 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Williams also was perfect from the line, hitting all four free throws and tallying 11 total points.
West Fargo's next game is Thursday, Dec. 7, when Fargo Shanley (2-1, 2-4) pays a visit for a 6:15 p.m. tipoff.
Girls basketball drops two
The West Fargo girls basketball team's struggles didn't subside last week after they fell 69-46 to Bismarck Century on Monday, and 60-52 to Bismarck on Tuesday.
The Packers (0-3, 1-5) have dropped five straight, with their last win coming on their home opener Dec. 11.
Still, West Fargo girls basketball coach Barb Metcalf is optimistic.
"We are not in 'panic' mode," she said. "Our girls know we need to take care of the ball and that is our New Year's resolution: get rid of the turnover bug and finish games."
Metcalf said the Packers were close against Century, but ran out of gas during the second half. Against Bismarck, West Fargo "did a better job executing ... but had 10 turnovers too many." The Packers finished with 20 turnovers compared to the Demons' 10.
Leading West Fargo was Katelyn Holland, who racked up a two-game total of 32 points. Carissa Becher was second with a two-game total of 23 points.
The Packers have a chance to win their first conference game Thursday, and an upset at that, when they face Fargo Shanley (2-1, 4-2) at 7:45 p.m. at West Fargo High School.