Prior to Saturday, two teams remained unbeaten in North Dakota high school girls hockey against in-state opponents. Saturday’s meeting at Purpur Arena between the Grand Forks KnightRiders and Bismarck Blizzard gave the teams the chance to prove just which is the best team in North Dakota — for the time being. The Blizzard used two goals from freshman Britta Curl to skate to a 3-1 win and improve to 17-2 overall and 16-0 in North Dakota, while dropping Grand Forks to 14-5-1 and 14-1-1 in the state.
Conference wins don’t come easy this time of year, especially when hosting a team that has yet to lose a league game.
Grand Forks Red River didn’t want to give any early confidence to Fargo North on Thursday. The Spartans came in with an 0-9-2 record in the Eastern Dakota Conference an 0-16-2 overall mark. The Roughriders did just that, building a 3-0 lead after the first period en route to an 8-0 win at Purpur Arena. The Roughriders outshot the Spartans 56-8.
New Town, the largest community on the Fort Berthold Reservation, is known more for success in basketball and cross country than football. The small North Dakota community doesn't produce Division I football talent very often. It usually struggles to get enough kids to field a 9-man football team. In fact, during New Town’s second-to-last game this past season against St. John, the Eagles played with just nine players.
Grand Forks Central was downed on the road by Valley City 63-38 on Dec. 16th. In the second go-around Friday, not much changed. This time, the Hi-Liners won 63-35 at the Central gymnasium, aided by a 24-4 run through the first eight minutes of the game.
When playing the second game on back-to-back nights, sluggish starts can happen. That wasn’t the case Saturday for Grand Forks Central, which used a 12-0 run to begin the game to come away with a 68-60 win over visiting Fargo North, which was also playing for the second straight night. The win improved the Knights to 3-5 in the Eastern Dakota Conference and 4-5 overall, while dropping the Spartans to 1-8 in the EDC and 1-9 overall.
Austin Waliser has been consistent for the Red Lake County boys basketball team this season. “Waliser has been pretty steady for us all year,” Rebels coach Steve Philion said. “He’s been averaging about 19. He’s probably our most consistent player … he had a good night tonight.” The junior showed up once again, hitting his average of 19 points to lead Red Lake County to a 53-36 win over East Grand Forks Sacred Heart on Monday at Sacred Heart Gymnasium.
Balance has been a point of emphasis for the East Grand Forks Senior High boys basketball team so far this season. Monday, visiting Win-E-Mac was the more balanced team as it downed Senior High 56-41 at the Senior High gymnasium. The Patriots finished with three players in double figures. The Green Wave had two in double figures, but had just four players score.
Senior Grand Forks Central forward Cole Kirchoffner and the Knights haven’t had any trouble lighting the lamp so far this season. Central averaged 5.2 goals a game prior to Saturday’s meeting with Fargo Davies. The Knights upped that average as they beat the Eagles 6-3 at Purpur Arena behind two goals apiece by Kirchoffner and sophomore forward Nick Lund. The pair of goals gave Kirchoffner seven on the season. He added an assist to bring his points total to 12 — both totals lead the Knights, who improved to 5-1-1. “Cole is a very well-rounded player,” Central coach Grant Paranica said.
On the road to a state runner-up finish last season, East Grand Forks Senior High took down Minnesota Section 8AA Roseau twice. Roseau went on to play in the AA state tournament. In the first of two meetings this season Tuesday, the teams once again went head-to-head as two of the top teams in Minnesota in their respective classes. This time, Roseau came out on top.