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Grand Forks Red River secures No. 2 seed thanks to lengthy penalty killing in win over Fargo Davies

For Roughriders coach Tim Skarperud, the seeding meant less than simply making sure his team was trending in the right direction as postseason arrives.

021221 S GFH RRBHOK JakeGrandstrand GavinBalvitsch01.jpg
Red River defenseman Jake Grandstrand drops Davies' Gavin Balvitsch (9) in the second period of Thursday's boys hockey game at Eagles Arena. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The No. 2 seed for the East Region boys hockey tournament was on the line between Grand Forks Red River and Fargo Davies on Thursday night.

For Roughriders coach Tim Skarperud, the seeding meant less than simply making sure his team was trending in the right direction as postseason arrives.

In the process of a 3-0 win over Fargo Davies at Eagles Arena, the Riders were able to accomplish both.

"To me this time of year, it's about playing the game the right way," Skarperud said. "Seeding is whatever because it doesn't matter where you end up because you have to beat everyone anyway."

Red River will face the winner of a play-in game between No. 7 West Fargo and No. 10 May-Port Area on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the region quarterfinals at Purpur Arena.

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Purpur will host a doubleheader Tuesday, as No. 1 Grand Forks Central plays the winner of the play-in between No. 8 Grafton-Park River and No. 9 Devils Lake at 7 p.m.

The Riders, 14-4-0 overall, will enter the postseason on a five-game winning streak thanks to a special teams advantage against the Eagles.

In a game featuring 11 penalties for 28 minutes, Red River scored twice on the power play and held off Davies on two long 5-on-3 situations in the second period.

Red River goalie Andrew Peterson finished with a 24-save shutout.

The Riders haven't given up a goal in four straight games.

Red River senior Zach Hinschberger started the scoring when he one-timed a soft pass from Wyatt LeDuc from the right faceoff dot at 8 minutes, 48 seconds of the first period. The goal came 35 seconds into a 5-on-3 situation.

Red River extended the lead to 2-0 when Mason Reynolds finished off a centering pass from Carter Sproule at 1:57 of the second.

From there, the Riders needed to maneuver a stretch where they took four penalties, including a five-minute major, in a span of 5:41. The stretch included long 5-on-3 power plays for the Eagles.

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"The one thing I loved about it is the character guys showed blocking shots and laying it all on the line," Skarperud said. "You don't want to be in those situations, but that's what builds a team right there when the going gets tough. That's what you love to see.

"I like where we're at. Obviously, there's certain things to work on and you're never perfect but today the guys were ready -- all 20 guys -- at the drop of the puck. Andrew Peterson was kicking back there and that's a recipe for success when you're playing good defensive, sound hockey and tough to play against."

Red River rounded out the scoring with a goal by Landon Langenstein. Justin Wasvick centered a pass to Langenstein on the power play at 1:50 of the third.

The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Davies, which ends the regular season 12-6-0.

Davies will be the No. 4 seed in the region tournament and host No. 5 West Fargo Sheyenne at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

I thought we played okay," Davies coach Nate Metcalf said. "I think we did a lot of things right ... a few pipes and a few loose pucks in the crease -- bang one of those home and it might be a different game. Their goalie played well, and we didn't get pucks to the net like we should have. I think we've been in postseason mode for about seven games now. The guys need to be ready to go every night, and we just need to execute."

GF Red River 3, Fargo Davies 0

First period -- 1. RR, Zach Hinschberger (Wyatt LeDuc, Cooper Freije) 8:48

Second period -- 2. RR, Mason Reynolds (Carter Sproule) 1:57

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Third period -- 3. RR, Landon Langenstein (Justin Wasvick, Hinschberger) 1:50

Goalie saves -- RR: Andrew Peterson 5-13-6 -- 24; FD: Trent Wiemken 16-7-3 --26

Related Topics: HOCKEYPREP SPORTS
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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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