With a quick turnaround from a rivalry loss to Grand Forks Central the day before, the Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team didn’t have time early Saturday afternoon to dwell on the semifinal setback.
“We had to come out with a vengeance and right the ship,” Red River interim coach John Dvorak said. “Luckily, we were able to bring our ‘A’ game.”
That ‘A’ game was enough for No. 4 Red River to hold off No. 6 Fargo North 4-1 in a state qualifier at Purpur Arena.
Red River, which has only missed qualifying for the state tournament once (2010) in more than 50 years of program history, rode two goals from forward Tyler Savage, who bumped his team-best goal production to 24.
“I think the boys showed up to the rink knowing what we needed to do,” Savage said. “We knew we had to come out and win the game with the season on the line. Everyone showed up ready to go today.”
The teams traded goals in the first period, with Red River’s Noah Bradbury scoring at 4:59 of the first and North’s Michael Hallquist evening the score at 8:14 of the first.
Red River’s special teams sparked a second-period separation. On the power play, Savage corralled a tough-to-handle pass on the doorstep and scored following a long shift and just 11 seconds left on the man advantage.
Savage’s first goal of the game came at 4:42 of the second.
The Riders bumped the lead to 3-1, scoring just 12 seconds after a power play expired. Mason Thingvold put away his own rebound after a perfect centering pass from Drew Montgomery.
Savage would put the game away with a shot from the slot through the five hole that surprised North goalie Luke Olson at 8:42 of the third period.
“I thought we started off a little shaky but as the game went on we got in a groove and started to pick it up,” Savage said.
The Riders (14-9-0) outshot the Spartans (7-16-1) 25-17.