Boys hockey: Fields' four-point night silences Kittson's upset bid in 8A quarterfinals
The Detroit Lakes boys hockey team scored four unanswered goals to advance to the Section 8A semifinals on Saturday.
DETROIT LAKES – Senior Jordan Fields does his best to make sure he’s the last one off the ice for either team during warm-ups. It’s a superstition that at least one hockey player has on almost every team. Whether it was his good juju from outlasting Kittson County Central’s Tyler Hennen before Thursday’s Section 8A quarterfinal game or just his talent, Fields lowered the collective heart rate at the Kent Freeman arena to avoid a first-round upset.
After trailing 2-0 late in the second period, he scored a pair of goals and added two assists in the final 18:18. The third-seeded Lakers (19-4-2) survived a scare to send the sixth-seeded Bearcats (8-16-1) packing.
“We let our emotions get to us in the first and second (periods). You could kind of see it on the bench,” Fields said. “Once we put those emotions aside, we came together as a team and said, ‘We’re not losing this game.’”
Kittson freshman Jameson Turner did his best to spoil one of the largest home crowds the Lakers had this season. He made 44 saves in goal and held Detroit Lakes scoreless for nearly two periods. That was until Fields beat Turner over the glove with 1:42 left in the second period to cut the deficit in half.
“We all knew he was going to break,” Fields said of Kittson’s Turner. “Once one of them went in, the floodgates were going to open. I guess that came in the second period.”
Fields scored again to tie the game 14 seconds into the third frame. Spencer Bergman, who wasn’t credited with an assist on the play, put a shot off the pad of Turner. Fields corralled the loose puck and scored the game-tying goal.
Five minutes later, defenseman Jacob Thomas sniped the top-left corner of the net on the power play to give Detroit Lakes its first lead of the game.
“It was awesome to be out there for these fans that show up for every game,” Fields said. “When we’re all clicking like we were in the third, we feel like the best team in the state.”
Bergman scored the Lakers’ fourth unanswered goal two and a half minutes later to put the game out of reach. Even though hundreds of fans went home happy, it didn’t come without a sweat.
The Bearcats opened the scoring in the first period when Izyk Stege tipped a Gavin Johnson shot over the glove of Detroit Lakes goaltender Elijah Blow. Despite being outshot 15-5, Kittson led 1-0 after 17 minutes.
Amid the Lakers’ scoring struggles, Kittson doubled its lead midway through the second. Landon Sugden scored on a back-door feed from Hennen on an odd-man rush with 7:25 left in the second period.
“There was no real game plan against them,” Fields said of the Bearcats’ top line. “We have three lines in a row that can wear them down and stop them. I think we just needed to play with a little bit more confidence and play our game. Once we did that, we took those guys away and scored goals.”
A season can slip in a matter of seconds in the section playoffs. Trailing 2-1 with 17 minutes left, the Lakers weren’t going to let that happen.
“It was dead silent in the locker room for a little bit,” Fields said of the second intermission. “We just told ourselves that we need to bear down. This wasn’t how our season was going to end. Then we took it to them.”
On Saturday, Detroit Lakes heads to East Grand Forks for its semifinal game against second-seeded Thief River Falls (15-11). The Lakers beat the Prowlers 2-1 on Jan. 13 at the Kent Freeman Arena. Puck drops at 6 p.m. at the East Grand Forks Civic Center.
The Lakers won a defensive tug-of-war in the first meeting between Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls. The two teams combined for 26 total shots on goal and one penalty. Regardless of how the first game was played, Fields is confident this group of Lakers is ready to prove they are different.
“It’s all because of coach (Ben) Noah and his work to get this culture to where it’s at,” Fields said. “He’s the reason this program is where it’s at now. People are seeing Detroit Lakes hockey isn’t a joke anymore.”