Ty's Take: Boys hockey turning the corner
A lopsided loss to lowly Fargo South at the Scheels Center right before Christmas was a wakeup call for the West Fargo boys hockey team. In the four games since then, the Packers are undefeated with two wins and two ties. West Fargo currently leads the East Region standings with a 5-2-1 conference record, and are 8-2-2 overall.
They started last week with a 5-1 win over Fargo Davies (0-3-1 EDC, 6-5-1) on Tuesday. Then Saturday the Packers visited Devils Lake (4-2-1, 9-2-1), where they tied 1-1.
With Cameron Holland sidelined from an undisclosed injury, Josh Hanson was in net against the Eagles. He posted 28 saves en route to the win. As for offense, that was led by Conor Jonasson, who racked up a hat-trick and an assist. Dusty Munyer and Jeremy Johnson scored West Fargo's other goals.
While the Packers handily defeated the Eagles, their next opponent would be a different story.
"Devils Lake is doing really well this year. They play physical hockey, work really hard and are well coached," West Fargo co-coach Troy Miller said.
With the word that Holland was ready to play, Miller and co-coach Tim Capouch decided to start the senior netminder.
The Firebirds struck first blood with a goal late in the first period. After a scoreless second, West Fargo's Sage Raghib responded with a goal at the seven-minute mark of the third period, with Johnson on the assist.
In the end, Holland racked up an impressive 45 saves on the night, and improved to 5-2-1 on the season with a 91.5 saves percentage.
"He made two or three tough saves and the rest were pretty routine for him," Miller said.
Still, the Packers had plenty of opportunities to come away with the win.
"It was a good hockey game, but we need to do a better job of putting the puck in the net," Miller said. "We didn't capitalize on four or five good chances."
And it isn't like West Fargo doesn't have the firepower. All three of its top points producers - Jonasson, Johnson, and Munyer -are ranked in the Top 5 of the EDC.
As for Fargo South (2-4-0, 4-6-0), the Packers had a shot at redeeming that December loss Tuesday when the two teams battled it out at Vets Arena, but results were not in when The Pioneer went to press. West Fargo's next game is Saturday, hosting Grafton-Park River (2-3-0, 5-7-0) at 6 p.m.
Though they've been having a great season so far, there is room for improvement, Miller said, especially at offense.
"We need to spread (the goals) around a little bit. Save them for games when you have to grind it out a little bit," he said.
Girls hockey: West Fargo (8-1-0, 9-1-0) swept last week, defeating Williston 8-0 on Friday, and Minot 4-1 on Saturday. They played Tuesday at Jamestown, but results were not available. West Fargo's next game is Friday at home hosting Devils Lake (2-7-0, 2-7-2) at 7:30 p.m.
Boys basketball: The Packers (4-1, 5-2) split last week with a win over Red River, but a loss to North. They played Tuesday against Valley City, but results weren't available. Next up, West Fargo heads to the FargoDome to face EDC-leading South (6-1, 5-3) at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Girls basketball: West Fargo (8-0, 7-1) increased its conference lead with wins last week over Red River and North. The Packers play again Saturday when they host South (4-3, 4-3) at 4:30 p.m.
Wrestling: The Packers have been busy. Last week, they took down Grand Forks Central 44-30 on Tuesday, before heading back down to Rochester, Minn., for the two-day "Clash." West Fargo faced some stiff competition, but wound up finishing 26th out of 32 teams with a 3-3 record. Both 103-pounder Jordan Shearer and 135-pounder Tom Kuehn were undefeated at 6-0. Next up, West Fargo heads to face the Bruins on Thursday for a 7 p.m. start. They finally will get the chance to play in front of a home crowd again, when they host Moorhead at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Tyler Shoberg is Sports Editor of The Pioneer, and can be reached at 701-451-5717, or firstname.lastname@example.org.