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BOYS HOCKEY: Miller scores 4, Riders top Central

Max Miller can't remember his last hat trick. "It was probably when I was in peewees, when I was 13 or 14,'' Miller said. "This was my first in high school.'' It was a hat-trick-plus-one for Miller on Saturday. The Grand Forks Red River junior fo...

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Grand Fork Central's Boe Bjorge, left, and Red River's Colin Hennessy work for position along the boards during their high school hockey game Saturday at Purpur Arena. Photo by Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald

Max Miller can’t remember his last hat trick.

“It was probably when I was in peewees, when I was 13 or 14,’’ Miller said. “This was my first in high school.’’

It was a hat-trick-plus-one for Miller on Saturday. The Grand Forks Red River junior forward had four goals, doubling his season total and leading the Roughriders to a 6-3 boys high school hockey win against Grand Forks Central.

The game was called The Stadstad Game, added to the schedule recently after the teams played only two games in the December Stadstad tournament. The game has no bearing on East Region standings or the Gambucci Cup race.

“I’m not really a goal scorer,’’ said Miller, who paces the Riders with 18 points. “I get more assists than goals. But my teammates were able to find me today. I was getting shots on the net and they happened to squeak in.’’

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Miller’s first goal came from out front just 19 seconds after Austin Johnson’s score gave the Knights a 1-0 lead 2:58 into the game. After Jacob Knecht drilled in a score from between the circles, Miller made it 3-1 on the power play on a nice cross-ice pass from Keenen Berning.

Riley Warner’s goal from the point pulled Central within 3-2 at 10:33 in the second. But Miller scored from the right circle 43 seconds into the third and Jace Braathen poked in a rebound 82 seconds later for a 5-2 Red River lead.

Johnson cut the lead to 5-3 with his second score before Miller wrapped it up with an empty-net goal. It was the first Rider hat trick of the season.

“Max is a big-time playmaker,’’ Red River coach Bill Chase said. “He’s gotten better and better at burying the puck. Today he showed it.

“He was going harder than he has all year. But this was the most complete game by the whole team all year. We kept putting on the pressure. Our passes were crisp. We haven’t played that well the last four games. We knew Central is good. Maybe that brought it out for us.’’

Central couldn’t capitalize on an opportunity when Red River was called for a major penalty early in the second. The Riders led 2-1 at the time and Central couldn’t close the gap during the five-minute penalty.

“If we get a goal or two in there, that changes the game,’’ GFC coach Grant Paranica said. “I think it would have energized us.

But, he added, “we struggled on defense, no question. We held onto the puck too long in our end. They won the game on the boards in our zone.’’

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Red River improved to 10-1-1 while dropping the Knights to 10-3-1.

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Grand Forks Central's Tate Steffan finds himself sandwiched between Red River's Casey Schumacher, left, and Jayce Turner, right, during their high school hockey game Saturday at Purpur Arena. Photo by Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald

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