Grand Forks Central downs Fargo Davies for region title, improves to 22-0-0
For one period, the Fargo Davies boys hockey team looked ready to place Grand Forks Central on upset alert.
The Knights scored four second-period goals, including one with five seconds left in the period, to spark a 6-2 win over Fargo Davies on Saturday night in the East Region championship at Purpur Arena.
“We were a little bit dead in the first period,” said Central coach Grant Paranica, who was named East Region Coach of the Year. “We needed to get some energy and come alive.”
Davies held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period. Cade Hanson scored at 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the first, while Cade Stibbe scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 15:26 to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
“We came out a little slow after a pretty big win over our crosstown rival yesterday,” Central’s Cole Hanson said. “We wanted to come out hard and it didn’t happen. We were pretty lackadaisical. We needed to calm down and move our feet. Once we did that, we started to play pretty well.”
The Knights -- led by standout senior forward and East Region Senior Athlete of the Year Hanson -- were relentless in the second period.
Hanson, whose team improved to 22-0-0, finished with two goals and three assists and now has a North Dakota-best 36 goals on the year.
“I don’t think anyone was panicking,” Hanson said. “We were still focused and composed. We knew once we moved our feet, we could come back.”
Tucker Hodgson, Lucas Kanta, Will Howard and Hanson each scored in the second period. Hanson’s goal in the second was truly a dagger as he scored on the power play with five seconds remaining in the period.
“Their stats on the power play are unbelievable,” Davies interim coach Dean Wilson said. “We haven’t had a lot of time to work on penalty kill but we will next week. Three power-goals and you take that out of the mix …”
In addition, Hanson scored with a delayed penalty so the Knights started the third period with the man advantage. Central would cash in the resulting power play as William Lawson-Body brought a puck out from behind the net to the goal mouth for a 6-2 lead.
The flurry of goals in the second removed all the thought of an uprising from the Eagles, who were trying to be the first North Dakota team to beat Central since Feb. 26, 2016 (Bismarck High in the state semifinals).
Davies didn’t start usual top goalie Jared Winter. Instead, backup John Wuitschick stopped 21 shots.
“(Winter) will be back,” Wilson said. “We rested him today. I thought John played well. You always want your No. 1 back, but we have two good goalies.”
Central goalie Aaron Nielsen made 12 saves.
“State tournament is by far the most fun part of the season,” Hanson said. “We’ve been working for it all season. The boys are pretty excited for it.”
GF Central 6,
Fargo Davies 2
First period -- 1. FD, Cade Hanson (Tristan Dauner, Jaiden Yaeger) 5:30; 2. GFC, Cole Hanson (Peter Loyland) 10:30; 3. FD, Cade Stibbe 15:26
Second period -- 4. GFC, Tucker Hodgson (Hanson) 7:25; 5. GFC, Lucas Kanta (Hanson, Kyler Briske) 12:29; 6. GFC, Will Howard (Briske) 14:36; 7. GFC, Hanson (Kanta, William Lawson-Body) 16:55
Third period -- 8. GFC, Lawson-Body (Hanson, Hodgson) 1:01
Goalie saves -- GFC: Aaron Nielsen 2-4-6 -- 12; FD: John Wuitschick 6-10-5 -- 21
Forwards -- Cole Hanson, GF Central, Lucas Kanta, GF Central, Cade Stibbe, Fargo Davies, Caleb Fritel, Fargo North, Drew Sandy, Fargo South/Shanley, Brayden Jacobson, West Fargo, Tyler Savage, GF Red River, William Lawson-Body, GF Central
Defensemen -- Brandon Holt, GF Central, Hunter Bjorge, GF Central, Connor Arel, GF Red River, Max Larson, Fargo Davies, Matthew Suda, Grafton-Park River
Goalies -- Nate Bradbury, GF Red River, Reegan Reule, Devils Lake
Senior Athlete of the Year -- Cole Hanson, GF Central
Coach of the Year -- Grant Paranica, GF Central