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Packers defeat Midgets in West Fargo Winter Classic

Six teams gathered on the east side of the state for the West Fargo Winter Classic. One of the six was Dickinson, getting a taste of how they matchup against some teams from the Eastern Dakota Conference.

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Dickinson goaltender Jayce Concha (1) and defenseman Tanner Roers (26) keep a close eye on their net against West Fargo on Tuesday, Dec. 28 in West Fargo. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

Those brave enough to endure the frigid temperatures Tuesday night were treated to some hockey under the lights at the The Lights ice rink in West Fargo.

Six teams gathered on the east side of the state for the West Fargo Winter Classic. One of the six was Dickinson, getting a taste of how they matchup against some teams from the Eastern Dakota Conference.

Their first game saw them take on the West Fargo Packers on the outdoor rink in freezing conditions. Face-off temperature hovered around -5 with a wind chill making it feel like -25. But that didn’t matter, there was hockey to be played.

The Packers dominated most of the game and cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Midgets. Slowly but surely West Fargo pulled ahead with one goal apiece in the first and second period, followed by three in the third.

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Both benches did their best to stay warm with temperatures well below zero degrees. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

West Fargo’s Noah Diemer got the Packers on the board in the first period, who put the spin move on the Dickinson defense and broke free for a shot.

The second goal for West Fargo came 20 seconds into the second period, slotted home by Chase Mattern. The Packers were relentless, firing 30 shots on goal through the first two periods, compared to seven for the Midgets.

It was 3-0 in the third period before Dickinson junior forward Taylor Giese scored the Midgets’ only goal of the game and his third of the season, sending in a deflected shot. But that was all the offense Dickinson could generate on the night as they let in two more goals in the period that probably could have been prevented.

“We let in a couple soft ones today that we want back,” Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. “It’s a different style of play and a step above what we’re used to seeing everyday.”

Kuntz had high praise for West Fargo and the other teams in the EDC for how consistent and excellent they are. He noted their “hockey sense” being a step above theirs.

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Dickinson junior Levi Jerome (26) moves the puck into the offensive zone in the first period against West Fargo on Tuesday, Dec. 28 in West Fargo. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)

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Dickinson goaltender Jayce Concha had more to do on the night than his opponent, recording 39 saves as West Fargo’s Alex Kludden was forced into just 12 saves.

Only one power play opportunity presented itself in the game, coming for Dickinson in the second period. Both teams were tasked with the challenges of playing on an outdoor rink on a brisk December night.

“It’s not going to be a skill game, it’s kind of a slug fest,” Kuntz said. “West Fargo had more opportunities and held the zone on us. We had some opportunities too but it’s not a controlled environment where kids can make all those skill plays. Everyone is out there freezing and trying to make plays.”

It was a unique experience that Kuntz said all the players enjoyed. They’ll have to endure the cold one more time, taking on West Fargo Sheyenne on Wednesday, Dec. 29 to cap off their trip to Fargo.

SCORING

DHS - 0 0 1, 1

WF - 1 1 3, 5

First Period

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WF - 4:04, Noah Diemer (3), assisted by Colten Bossert (5), 1-0

Second Period

WF - 0:20, Chase Mattern (2), assisted by Bossert (6) and Diemer (7), 2-0

Third Period

WF - 2:24, Kaleb Knuttila (2), assisted by Ethan Spanier (2), 3-0

DHS - 2:36, Taylor Giese (3), assisted by Ethan Lawrey (2) and Davin Siebel (1), 3-1

WF - 8:12, Riley Prochnow (3), assisted by Diemer (8), 4-1

WF - 12:22, Aiden Wolf (2), assisted by Knuttila (2) and Griffin Staahl (4), 5-1

Race Archibald is a former sports reporter with The Dickinson Press.
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