Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate.
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The Dickinson boys hockey team has made the North Dakota state tournament three years in a row. Two years ago, the Midgets faced a Grand Forks Red River team in the first round that went on to become the second-ever undefeated state champion. Last year, Dickinson went up against a Grand Forks Central team in the first round that went on to become the third-ever undefeated state champion. The first-round draw wasn't much better for Dickinson this season.
Bismarck Century senior forward Casey Foss missed the first seven games of the boys hockey season due to a knee injury suffered in the Patriots' final football game. In the 17 games Foss played, he scored five goals on the year. Foss nearly matched that total through only two periods of the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament on Thursday. Foss scored four goals to lead the West Region's top seed to a 6-1 win over Grafton-Park River in the state quarterfinals at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The North Dakota state boys hockey tournament kicks off today in Grand Forks with eight games between the boys and girls. The boys games will be played at the main rink at Ralph Engelstad Arena, while the girls games will take place on the REA's Olmypic ice. Here's everything you need to know about the event:
The Grand Forks Central boys hockey team finished off one of the most dominant seasons in state history last year by outscoring North Dakota state tournament opponents 21-3 en route to a perfect 27-0 record. The Knights lost seven of their top eight scorers off that team. Of the 197 goals scored by the Knights a year ago, only 52 returned this season.
The Grand Forks KnightRiders hold the No. 6 seed heading into today's North Dakota state girls hockey tournament. On one hand, Grand Forks was in this seeding place a year ago and ended up in the state championship. On the other hand, the KnightRiders know they're facing an uphill battle and will have to try to pull off upsets for the second year in a row with a vastly different lineup. The KnightRiders (9-13-1) will start the journey at about 7:30 p.m. in the state quarterfinals against West Fargo United in the Olympic Rink at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Local high school hockey fans might want to take advantage of Grand Forks hosting the North Dakota state boys and girls hockey tournaments starting today at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The state tournaments won't be so close to home for a while. The events will head to Fargo for the next three years—the longest break for Grand Forks since the state tournament began in 1967. The North Dakota High School Activities Association has agreed on future schedules for state tournament sites for all sports through the 2025 season.
Grand Forks Red River's Bill Chase has been coaching hockey in Grand Forks for nearly 30 years. That gives the Roughriders' boys hockey coach a unique perspective to place players in historical context. In that span, Chase has coached some of Grand Forks' top freshman scorers of all-time—Ryan Potulny, Luke Johnson and current Red River freshman Jackson Kunz. Kunz, Red River's second-leading scorer, and the rest of the Riders open the North Dakota state tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena in the late game Thursday in an opening-round matchup against Bismarck High.
Grafton-Park River boys hockey coach Scott Robideaux is in his second stint coaching the Spoilers. This is Robideaux's first year back with the program after coaching in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With plenty of background on the program's rich history, Robideaux is happy to get rid of one unique characteristic of his 2018 team: Nobody on his team knows what it's like to play in the state tournament.
Solving Fargo Davies goalie Jared Winter was a challenge throughout the East Region tournament. Grand Forks Central was the latest team to struggle to beat Winter. But a fluttering point shot and a well-placed screen was enough to give Central the region crown. Hunter Bjorge's shot through a Will Howard screen gave the Knights a 1-0 victory over Davies on Saturday evening at Purpur Arena. Bjorge, who scored his fourth goal of the season, scored at 12 minutes, 50 seconds of the second period to give the Knights (21-1-2) their 14th-straight victory.
Grand Forks Red River missed out on the East Region championship game, but at least the Roughriders won't have to miss out on the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament. The Riders sealed that fate with four second-period goals to beat Devils Lake 4-0 on Saturday afternoon in a state-qualifying game at the East Region tournament at Purpur Arena. "I thought we came out a lot better," Red River sophomore forward Dane Montgomery said. "We started to make the simple plays and that's what killed us last night. We started to calm down and play together as a team."