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NORTH DAKOTA HOCKEY TOURNAMENT NOTEBOOK: North girls look for another banner

When his team was watching game film Thursday night in its Grand Forks hotel room, Fargo North girls hockey coach Dave Bjugson asked his players what was missing on the tape.

When his team was watching game film Thursday night in its Grand Forks hotel room, Fargo North girls hockey coach Dave Bjugson asked his players what was missing on the tape.

On the screen during a game against Bismarck in the Fargo Coliseum this season, two state championship banners from North titles in 2004 and 2005 flashed.

"You see up here girls? You see what's missing?" Bjugson said.

His players picked up on it.

"The banner," they said, "the third banner."

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After defeating Bismarck 2-1 in the semifinals Friday, North gets another chance at a third banner.

The Spartans face rival West Fargo at 11:30 a.m. today in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Like his players, Bjugson hasn't forgotten last year's loss to Bismarck in the final. He still carries the newspaper article from the game in his briefcase.

After winning titles in 2004 and 2005, the Spartans finished runner-up to Bismarck in 2006 and 2007.

Busy, busy, busy

Denny Gunderson has taken care of the ice at UND for years. But he's driving the Zamboni more than usual this year since both the boys and girls state hockey tournaments are being played in Engelstad Arena for the first time.

Gunderson said the ice in Engelstad Arena was resurfaced approximately 25 times Thursday. On Friday, the total was nearly the same.

He won't get a break today, either, as the girls state championship begins in the morning before UND hosts Bemidji State in the afternoon. The boys championship game is tonight.

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Gunderson estimates the Engelstad Arena ice will be resurfaced 75 times this week.

Slump is over

Chad Demers scored three goals in Grafton-Park River's 6-2 semifinal win against Bismarck on Friday night.

The junior has five goals for the tournament and 33 for the season.

Grafton-Park River coach Jay Haugland said it's no surprise that Demers has come up big in the state tournament.

"Chad is a goal scorer," Haugland said. "He produces in big games. Any time he's on the ice, there is a possibility of a goal being scored."

Demers has 55 points on the season. But his linemates also have been productive.

Alex Gaustad has 44 points on the season, while Ryan Mohagen has 37. All three players are juniors.

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Another shot

Grafton-Park River was on a mission in Friday's semifinal game against Bismarck. The Spoilers, said leading scorer Chad Demers, were determined to reach tonight's championship game.

"It was key to get a lead right away," said Demers, referring to the Spoilers' 3-0 first-period advantage.

The win advanced Grafton-Park River to tonight's title game against Grand Forks Red River. And the Spoilers' chance at a state title comes after losing in the semifinal round of the last three state tournaments.

"We know the feeling of being so close and having it (chance for a state title) ripped out of your hands," Demers said.

KnightRiders

remain motivated

After Friday's 2-1 semifinal loss to West Fargo, Grand Forks girls hockey coach Melanie Lima quickly turned her team's focus to today's third-place game against Bismarck.

"The way we addressed it after the game is that we have unfinished business," Lima said. "After what happened today, they'll be motivated."

The KnightRiders finished third at last season's state tournament.

"It's not the ideal, but the cards have been dealt," Lima said. "Our senior girls want to finish on a positive note. A positive note would be third place."

Great bloodlines

Fargo North's leading scorer, senior forward Ryder Bekkedahl, had a monster game Friday in North's 5-1 consolation victory over Mandan.

He figured in every Spartan goal, scoring four and assisting on the fifth, giving him 18 goals on the year. His four goals in one game are two shy of the state tournament record of six, shared by Dennis Johnson (1970 vs. Fargo North) and Josh Hunter (2000 vs. Dickinson).

Bekkedahl comes from great bloodlines for a hockey player.

His great uncle is former NHL player and U.S. Hall of Famer Cliff "Fido" Purpur of Grand Forks, who later coached at every level of the game in Grand Forks, from youth to UND.

Bekkedahl's first cousins are Jay and Jeff Panzer of Grand Forks, both of whom played on NCAA championship teams at UND, where Jeff was a two-time All-America player and twice a Hobey Baker Award finalist.

Ryder Bekkedahl's mother is Kathy Bekkedahl, the sister of Gordy Panzer of Grand Forks. Gordy and Cindy Panzer are the parents of Jeff and Jay.

Ryder may attend UND next year. It's not known if he'll try out with the Sioux hockey team.

- Virg Foss also contributed to this story

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