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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published February 16 2013

Fargo Davies rallies to secure boys hockey state tournament berth

GRAND FORKS – In its third year of existence, the Fargo Davies boys hockey team earned the No. 1 seed in the North Dakota East Region tournament for the first time.

Thanks to a big third period on Saturday afternoon at Purpur Arena, the Eagles won’t have to remember that milestone for the wrong reasons.

Davies used third-period goals from Cole Wurzer, Trevor Swangler and Chris Sigurdson to avoid an upset and knock off No. 6 seed Grand Forks Central 4-2 in a state-qualifying game.

Davies (19-5) will be the East Region’s No. 3 seed at the state tournament next weekend in Grand Forks and play the second quarterfinal on Thursday.

The Knights, who end the year 7-16-1, put the Eagles on the ropes with a 2-0 lead deep into the second period.

“When we were down 2-0, we knew we had to come out firing and needed to give it everything we’ve got, because it could have been our last game,” sophomore forward Aidan Hartness said. “I think we wanted it more than them.”

Central surprised the Eagles by taking a 1-0 lead on a Christian Stevens goal at 9 minutes, 54 seconds of the first period, then snagging a two-goal advantage with a Kaden Monette tally at 5:07 of the second.

The Knights outshot Davies 13-4 in the first period and continued to be in command much of the second period.

However, a power-play goal by Hartness sent the game in a different direction.

“My buddy Aaron Pallen and I work on that play all year,” Hartness said. “I think we’ve scored on that little give and go about 10 times this year. I think that goal carried us into the third period. It was a game changer. Everyone wanted it from there.”

Davies coach Brent Davidson would have to agree. After Hartness broke the scoreless drought, Wurzer put home a goal only 14 seconds into the third period.

“The (Hartness) goal gave us a spark,” Davidson said. “Central came out hard and gave us everything they had. I just think we turned it on after that. We were going twice as fast and caught Central reeling a little bit. That turned it around.”

Central coach Tony Bina wasn’t as concerned with Hartness’ goal to make it 2-1. He said the Knights were in pretty good position heading to the locker room with a one-goal lead at home. Bina, however, said the Knights played timidly in the third period.

“We had a great first two periods,” Bina said. “We buzzed them and gave them nothing. Coming into the third period, Davies wanted it more than we did. Davies took charge, and that’s why they’re the No. 1 seed.”

Bina didn’t take much solace in coming close to pulling off the upset.

“Here’s my take on that: We had them on the ropes, but we had East Grand Forks on the ropes this year and Red River on the ropes and Davies before this,” Bina said. “When we get in those situations, we have to find guys who want the puck and get the job done. We panicked and got nervous. If we had done what we did in the first two periods, we would have won today.”

The Knights have now missed the state tournament four times in the past seven seasons.

Davies, meanwhile, has seen its program rise. After finishing eighth in the East Region in Davies’ first season in the league, the Eagles were fifth last year and first this season.

“I think that was new pressure for us,” Davidson said. “None of our guys have had that experience. That’s what we want, though. We know what it takes to get to (the No. 1 seed). Now we have to learn how to stay there.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GFC, Stevens (Reller, Kennedy) 9:54.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, GFC, Monette (Corbett) 5:07. 3, FD, A. Hartness (Pallen, Bischof) 13:45.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, FD, Wurzer (Worwa) :14. 5, FD, Swangler (Roscoe) 3:36. 6, FD, Sigurdson (Worwa) 14:13.

SAVES: GFC, Bender 4-8-11–23. FD, Windels 12-7-8–27.

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald