Ty's Take: Packers girls hockey team takes a wallop
It's not like the West Fargo girls hockey team never loses, because they do.
When the Packers drop a game, it's an eye-raising occurrence, but when they lose two straight, it's downright unheard of.
And that is exactly what happened last week. In an uncanny twist of fate, West Fargo received just its second and third losses of the season in upsets by Fargo South 4-2, and Warroad (Minn.) High School 6-2.
For the first time since their 2008-09 season, the Packers are on a skid.
Actually, the loss to the Warriors wasn't all that surprising. At 23-3 on the season (those three losses were all by just one goal, too) Warroad is one of Minnesota's top teams. Last year, they also beat the Packers with the lopsided score of 9-1.
But the loss to the No. 2 Bruins (15-3-0) on Tuesday may have stung a bit longer, especially since West Fargo beat them by the same score in mid-December.
Fargo South points leader Lindsey Nagel struck Tuesday less than three minutes into the game with her first of two goals. West Fargo's own points leader, Kacie Johnson, answered the threat with a power play score later in the first.
But that was the last peep from the Packers until late in the game. The Bruins scored three straight goals and led 4-1 until Johnson made a last-ditch effort and found the back of the net with less than two minutes remaining in the third period.
And it isn't like West Fargo didn't have chances. They led the game with scoring tries as evident by Fargo South goalie Katie Bucholz's 27 saves to the Packers' Andre Klug's 22.
In the end, the Packers were just outplayed.
Fast forward to Friday's contest against Warroad, and the story was somewhat the same, however, West Fargo faced a much tougher opponent.
Still, Johnson turned heads early with a powerplay goal at 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the game. She would score again late in the second period, but not before the Warriors racked up five scores.
For her part, Klug kept the Packers in the game with 33 saves, 19 of which came in the second period alone.
So West Fargo lost two games straight. So what? If there is one thing about the Packers that they've proven time and time again, it's never to count them out. And even with the losses, they still sit atop the standings with an overall record of 16-3.
If anything, the Packers were given a quick dose of reality. Their next few games until the state tournament Feb. 24-26 will prove their resilience.
West Fargo's first chance to bounce back comes Friday in Williston (7-12-1), when the puck drops at 7 p.m. They play again Saturday at 2 p.m. at Minot (8-9-2).
Wrestling off to postseason
The Packers wrestling team finished their season with two straight dual wins.
Just what they needed as they prepare for the postseason, which begins Saturday with the East Region meet in Wahpeton.
As it stands, the Packers are heading in as the No. 2 seed behind Fargo South, which finished the season with a flawless 7-0 record. West Fargo's only loss came to the Bruins, so if the two wind up meeting this weekend, there's bound to be sparks flying.
Last week, West Fargo began with a 54-17 dual win over Fargo North (3-4 EDC, 8-14), which lost out on a state tournament berth along with Wahpeton to Grand Forks Central because of a tiebreaker. The Packers then took down Wahpeton 45-18 on Friday.
Pairings for the state tournament also have been announced. The No. 2 Packers will face the West's No. 3 TMCHS (Belcourt) in Match 4 of the opening round, which starts at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 17. Other matchups include East No. 1 Fargo South vs. West No. 4 Mandan, West No. 2 Bismarck Century vs. East No. 3 Valley City, and West No. 1 Bismarck vs. East No. 4 Grand Forks Central.
Boys hockey: With just two games left in the regular season, the Packers (8-4-1, 13-4-2) are hoping to go out with a bang, especially since their second-to-last game Thursday is away against conference-leading Grand Forks Red River (9-3-0, 14-5-0). Hopefully, West Fargo's close 3-2 win over Fargo North (7-5-1, 10-7-1) last Friday will give them a shot of adrenaline heading into the home stretch. The Packers' last game of the regular season is 7:30 p.m. Saturday hosting Mandan (4-9-1, 5-12-1). Then, the East Region tournament runs Feb. 17-19 in Grand Forks.