Grand Forks Central storms by rival Red River to win region crown

The Knights used depth scoring and allowed just 16 shots on goal in routing rival Grand Forks Red River 6-1 for the region title at Purpur Arena.

Grand Forks Central's Joseph Kennelly (20), Braden Panzer (16) and Chase Spicer celebrate the Knights' sixth goal against Red River late in the third period in the EDC championship game Saturday at Purpur Arena. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Central scored just 73 seconds into the East Region tournament championship game Saturday and never let off the gas.

The Knights used depth scoring and allowed just 16 shots on goal in routing rival Grand Forks Red River 6-1 for the region title at Purpur Arena.

Central beat the Roughriders for the third time this season.

"We got good performances from all four lines today," said Central defenseman Carson Seng, who scored in the first period. "It's good to get all the lines going here to help out our first line. They're obviously a good line but it's good to get production from other areas."

Central's Brendan White scored at 1:13 of the first, then Seng made it 2-0 at 8:53.


Top line standouts Joey Kennelly and Braden Panzer scored second-period goals, while Kennelly got his second of the game in the third and Hunter Anderson rounded out the Knights' scoring with a goal in the final period.

Red River's lone goal came from Justin Wasvick, who scored at 4:50 of the third to briefly make it 4-1.

"It was an emotional contest and there were some highs and lows," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "But we managed to dig down deep and take some for the team there with Seng blocking three or four shots and that's the kind of things we need to do to win."

It was the most goals Red River has allowed this season since giving up six in a 6-2 loss at Roseau back on Jan. 16.

Red River goalie Andrew Peterson made 13 saves before giving way to Lucas Ulven, who stopped seven shots.

Central goalie Kolby Elseth made 15 stops.

"Give them credit," Red River coach Tim Skarperud said. "They were flying and put a lot of pressure on us right away. We have to give them a ton of credit for their energy and intensity."

Despite the emotional region title, both sides know more important results await next week at the North Dakota state tournament.


With the coronavirus pandemic impacting the state tournament setup, teams will play quarterfinals at higher seeds on Tuesday.

The Knights (19-2-1) will play No. 4 West Region seed Bottineau-Rugby, which is 9-9 on the year. The game is approximately set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Purpur.

"We just have to keep level heads and keep rolling into state," Seng said.

Red River, 17-5, will host No. 3 West Region seed Williston, which is 10-8 on the year. That game is set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Purpur.

"They don't remember who wins the region tournament, right?" Skarperud said. "So there's still great hockey left. We had a minor bump in the road and now let's get back to work on Monday and hopefully put ourselves in position to do some good things still."

The final two days of the state tournament will be played at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Semifinals are set for 6:30 and 9 p.m. Friday, with the championship game slated for 7 p.m. Saturday.


GF Central 6,

GF Red River 1

First period -- 1. GFC, Brendan White (Connor Litzinger) 1:13; 2. GFC, Carson Seng (Cole Barta) 8:53

Second period -- 3. GFC, Joey Kennelly (Braden Panzer) 12:27; 4. GFC, Panzer (Chase Spicer) 13:32

Third period -- 5. RR, Justin Wasvick (Carter Sproule) 4:50; 6. GFC, Hunter Anderson (Adam Arnold, Dillon Kuntz) 5:16; 7. GFC, Kennelly (Colton Bjorge, Panzer) 7:28

Goalie saves -- GFC: Kolby Elseth 3-5-7 -- 15; RR: Andrew Peterson 4-9-x -- 13, Lucas Ulven x-2-5 -- 7

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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