Ty's Take: Packers take a hit from Ol' Man Winter
Thus far, winter has been more of a slight bother than anything else. Sure, there's been plenty of wind, cold and the occasional blizzard, but rarely has it been more than just a minor inconvenience to the local sports scene.
That all changed with last week's slush fest. Rain, sleet, snow and the threat of worse to come meant canceled sports across the region, West Fargo included.
What should have been a weekend full of conference and nonconference matchups resulted in nothing but postponements.
So, this week's Ty's Take will cover events that were carried out before the storm, as well as just what the heck happened to everything else.
Girls hockey stops Grand Forks to stay undefeated
A common theme is unfolding with West Fargo girls hockey: they're winning. Actually, scratch that, they're still winning.
At 11-0, the Packers have dominated the competition this season. Their latest victim was Grand Forks, who came for an Eastern Dakota Conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Coming into the game ranked third in the East Region, the Knightriders (7-2-0 EDC, 7-3-2) were slated to be one of West Fargo's toughest opponents. Grand Forks didn't disappoint. Though the Packers won 4-1, the victory did not come without some early struggles.
Grand Forks and West Fargo were equally matched through much of the first period as evident by a near equal shot count. The Packers managed to keep the puck in the Knightriders end for most of that time, but couldn't find a way past junior netminder Ali Sondreal.
West Fargo's Katelyn Springer ended the dry spell, finding the back of the net off a rebound from teammate Kacie Johnson with less than two minutes remaining in the period.
The Packers went up 2-0 a little more than two minutes into the second period with Courtney Ellenson's fourth goal of the season.
Any hope for Andrea Klug's fourth consecutive shutout was dashed three minutes later when Nicole Novak scored an unassisted goal for the Knightriders. It is only the fifth time that Klug has been scored on all season.
Springer finished with two goals while Johnson tallied a goal and two assists to lead the Packers. Klug made 19 saves while Grand Forks' Sondreal stopped 32 shots.
The Packers were slated to play Williston at home on Saturday, Jan. 23, but the game was postponed. The makup game has yet to be determined. The Packers were scheduled to hit the road and face Fergus Falls on Tuesday, Jan. 26, but the results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They play again Friday at 7 p.m. in Dickinson (0-9-0, 0-9-0), and Saturday at noon in Mandan (0-6-0, 2-6-0).
Winter keeps wrestling from more regional action
The Packers wrestling team handed Moorhead only its third loss of the season Thursday, Jan. 21, by beating the Spuds 45-22.
West Fargo's true test, however, was to come the following two days at the Grand Forks Duals tournament, where they were to face some Top 10 teams that included No. 2 Bismarck, No. 7 Williston, and No. 10 Mandan.
But, as mentioned earlier, the weather wreaked havoc and the tournament was canceled. No makeup dates for the tournament are planned.
Still, the Packers put on a good show against Moorhead (9-3). Top wrestlers didn't disappoint, as Scott Schiller and Preston, Eric and Tyler Lehmann all won by fall in their respected weight classes. Tommy Kuehn, who currently is ranked third in the state, won by a 12-2 major decision over Brock Tallakson, and eighth grader Kyle Kragnes defeated Ben Herbst 4-2.
Others picking up wins for West Fargo included No. 4 Trevor Kringlie, No. 6 Jordan Johnston and Adam Seamands.
West Fargo also climbed the charts last week after picking up 167 first-place votes in the latest North Dakota Class A poll to bump Bismarck out of the No. 1 spot.
The Packers have a 7 p.m. conference dual Thursday, Jan. 28, at Grand Forks Red River. They then travel to Aberdeen, S.D., for a tournament Saturday, which starts at 10 a.m.
Boys hockey ties No. 1 RR
Sitting at .500 for the season, the Packers boys hockey team was the underdog Thursday, Jan. 21, when top-ranked Grand Forks Red River visited West Fargo.
But with a last-minute goal at 13:08 in the third period by Kyle Shoman, the Packers (4-4-2 EDC, 8-4-3) rallied to tie the EDC-leading Roughriders 5-5, giving them a critical point in the standings.
The whole game was one of streaks. Red River (6-2-1, 9-3-1) came out flying, scoring two goals in the first period, one shorthanded, before West Fargo responded with a flurry of its own. The Packers scored three straight goals to end the period, getting goals from Austin Dillard, Charlie Torrance and Conor Jonasson.
But the Roughriders retaliated in the second. Sparked by back-to-back goals from Jake LaDoucer, Red River also scored three straight times before Jeremy Johnson put the Packers within one with less than two minutes to go in the period.
Then Shoman got the tying goal in the third.
Red River replaced starter Mitchell Byrne with backup goalie Bryan Nies during the second period. Byrne finished with 17 stops and Nies with 14.
Josh Hanson, who started in goal for West Fargo in place of Cameron Holland, finished with 51 saves. Johnson, Shoman, and Charlie Torrance each had a goal and an assist, while eleven different players picked up points for the Packers.
West Fargo's Saturday game against Devils Lake was postponed until Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m. The Packers had another critical conference game Tuesday against Grand Forks Central, but results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They play again Thursday, Jan. 28, at home against Jamestown at 7:30 p.m.
Girls basketball's struggles continue against Bemidji
The West Fargo girls basketball game dropped a nonconference game 70-51 to Bemidji, Minn., on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Though the loss doesn't hurt the Packers (1-4, 2-7) in the EDC, it did stop their momentum after coming off a 66-36 blowout over Wahpeton two weeks ago.
Leading the Packers was junior guard Katelyn Holland, who amassed 24 points. Kayle Hirt led the Lumberjacks (13-1) with a game-high 25 points.
West Fargo was slated to play Grand Forks Central on Saturday, but the game was postponed until Feb. 19, at 7:45 p.m. They faced Red River on the road on Tuesday, but the results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. The Packers travel to Fargo South on Saturday to for a 3 p.m. game against the top-ranked Bruins (5-1, 9-1).
Odds and ends
The West Fargo boys basketball team's game against Grand Forks Central on Saturday was postponed until Feb. 2, at 7:45 p.m.
The boys swimming and diving team defeated Moorhead in a dual on Thursday. "The guys did really well," said Marsha Dahl, West Fargo swimming coach. "They had an awesome meet." The Packers were slated to head to Minot on Friday and Saturday, but the tournament was cancelled and no makeup dates were made. West Fargo swims again at home Friday against Fargo South. Then they head West on Saturday for the Jamestown Invitational starting at 11 a.m.