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DECIDED LATE: Firebirds just slip past Blue Jays

Jamestown's Connor Rene (left) looks on as Alex Stockert (right) moves the puck in front of Devils Lake's Hunter Swanson (center) Tuesday at John L. Wilson Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Devils Lake boys hockey has three players on its team with a last name ending in "son." Two of them connected for the game-winning goal against Jamestown on Tuesday night.

The Firebirds' Blair Martinson fed the puck to Aaron Johnson in the offensive zone for the one-time goal, giving Devils Lake a 4-3 lead with just over three minutes remaining. Jamestown sent a flurry of pucks to the net thereafter, but fell one goal short at John L. Wilson Arena.

"It feels good to score the game-winner," Johnson said. "My center won the draw, got it back to my right winger (Hunter Swanson), slid it to me in perfect position and I banged it home."

After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jays and Firebirds each tallied two goals each in the next frame.

Jamestown's Jace Thompson opened the scoring off a backhanded pass from Corey Nelson at 3:06 into the second frame. Devils Lake's Zach Boren would score two minutes later, followed by the Blue Jays' Alex Stockert (8:58) and the Firebirds' Martinson (16:29) to tie the game at 2-2.

"Jace played well," said Blue Jay junior forward Tommy Falk. "He's just solid with the puck and keeps it on his stick."

Thompson would score his second tally of the game at 3:25 into the third period, but Devils Lake's Swanson tied the contest at 3-3 and Johnson delivered the late game-winner.

The Blue Jays were outshot for a third consecutive game to open the season, adding to losses against Grafton-Park River and Mandan. Devils Lake outpaced the Jays 40-22 on shots, allowing a 32-12 margin over the final two periods.

"We just couldn't finish the game and put pucks in the net when it mattered," Falk explained.

Added goalie Riley Gerhardt: "We have to learn to put pucks in the net and there wasn't enough shots tonight."

Gerhardt was solid in net after stopping 36 of 40 shots on target. Overall, the junior has stopped 96 of 104 shots for a save percentage of .923.

"First period I started off a little rocky," Gerhardt admitted. "Second period I progressed better and stopped more pucks, but also let in a few I shouldn't have. Third period I let two in that costed us the game."

Jamestown fell to 0-3 on the year after losing eight seniors to graduation off last winter's 14-12 squad. Blue Jay coach Matt Stockert is currently playing two different centers, six wingers and two defensive lines on the ice.

Next up for the Blue Jays will be their first road game of the year this Friday in Bottineau. Bottineau-Rugby is 0-1, falling to Devils Lake 5-0 on Nov. 20.

"We have to work hard in practice to get ready for Bottineau-Rugby in a few days," Gerhardt said. "It'll be a hard game, again, but we're expecting to come out and win that."

Added Falk: "They're always a well-coached team and they're going to play solid, no matter who they have on the ice."

Devils Lake 4, Jamestown 3

DL 0 2 2 -- 4

JHS 0 2 1 -- 3

Second period

1. J, Jace Thompson (Corey Nelson, Tommy Falk), 3:06, 2; 2. DL, Zach Boren (Carter Schwab), 5:36, 3; 3. J, Alex Stockert (Nelson, Easton Hagen), 9:00, 1; 4. DL, Blair Martinson (Aaron Johnson), 19:30, 2.

Third period

5. J, Thompson (Unassisted), 3:25, 3; 6, DL, Hunter Swanson (Schwab), 5:33, 1; 7. DL, Aaron Johnson (Martinson), 13:55, 2.

Penalties: J, 1 for 2 minutes. DL, 2 for 4 minutes.

Goalie saves: J, Riley Gerhardt 8-14-14--36. Reegan Reule 7-5-7--19.

Records: Jamestown 0-3. Devils Lake 2-0.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853