Grafton-Park River boys hockey enjoying turnaround season
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 r...
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.
Previously a state tournament mainstay, the Spoilers had fallen on hard times in recent years before a late surge this postseason led Grafton-Park River back to state.
The Spoilers have won five state championships, including two in the past 20 years (2002, 2008).
"The bottom line is when we started this season we said we needed to get the tradition back and get that state-hockey feeling back," Robideaux said. "It has to start somewhere, so why not right now? Hopefully, once you get back into it now and they feel it again, you can get that drive going with the youth players."
Grafton-Park River, the No. 4 seed from the East Region, plays Bismarck Century, the No. 1 West Region seed, in the state quarterfinals at noon Thursday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Robideaux wasn't coaching last season, but he had confidence in the group he planned to inherit.
"I watched them enough to know they had talent and were good kids," he said. "I thought they were struggling to figure out who they were and what they were capable of doing. Our whole goal was to get them to believe in themselves. I think that's when it turned around. That turned this around more than anything."
One year after going 1-13 in East Region play and 4-19 overall, the Spoilers have improved to the tune of 6-10 in league play and 9-15 overall this year.
The improvement has been a bit of a roller coaster. The Spoilers started the year 6-2, then later ended the regular season on a seven-game losing streak. After that, the Spoilers beat Fargo South/Shanley and Fargo North at the East Region tournament to reach state.
Grafton senior Tom Magnusson said the new energy has been exciting.
"The environment throughout the region tourney and when we beat South, walking out of the locker room, it sent chills down my back and the hair on my neck stood up," Magnusson said. "It was a cool experience."
Magnusson has been one spark of the turnaround-from scoring one goal a year ago to now leading the team with 12 goals.
Magnusson hopes the Spoilers can also recreate past state tournament magic.
"I'm hoping to prove a bunch of teams wrong that think we got lucky getting there," he said. "I think we can make a run if we play our best hockey.
"Not being able to make state for five years and then being part of the senior group to bring it back is pretty neat and humbling."