The Grand Forks Central boys hockey program lost 10 of the Knights' top 12 scorers from last season's unbeaten state championship team.
The only two returners from that top 12 proved Thursday night why they're the new leaders of the rebuilt Knights.
Braden Panzer scored twice and Panzer and William Lawson-Body scored third-period goals as the Knights beat Grand Forks Red River 3-1 at Purpur Arena.
Panzer, a junior forward, moved into the East Region scoring lead with six goals and eight assists this season.
"I thought it was a great team effort," said Panzer, who scored both of his goals on high snipes. "It's been a little bit of a change (this season) but we have a great group in that locker room. We know that each and every one can step up when we need them."
Despite Central controlling play in the early moments, Red River's first shot on net was a goal. Brenden Mullen gave the Roughriders the lead at 3:22 of the first period with his first goal of the season.
But the Knights outshot Red River 9-2 in the first period and evened the score on Panzer's first goal, which came at 12:45 of the first on assists from Zachary Larson and Brandon McGarry.
"It wasn't really a polished game," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "There was a lot of mishandled and bouncy pucks. It was a gritty game and both teams battled."
After an even, scoreless second period, Panzer gave the Knights the lead with the help of a perfect feed from Lawson-Body at 2:45 of the third.
A little more than four minutes later, Lawson-Body gave the Knights some breathing room with a highlight-reel goal. Entering the zone with speed on a rush, Lawson-Body neared the end line before he pulled the puck from the left side quickly to the goal mouth and punched it in.
"What we attempted to do was take away time and space (from Central's top line)," Red River coach Mike LaMoine said. "They're fast and talented and move it well. We'll have to look at how we accomplish that the next time we play them."
The Knights improved to 5-1, while Red River dropped to 3-2-1.
"We did a lot of puck watching," LaMoine said. "We watched a very fast team play, and there's a lot to learn from that."
The Knights' top line was a handful and has been all season. Panzer leads the way with 14 points, while Lawson-Body has 11 (three goals) and Chase Spicer has 10 (two goals).
"There's no quit in those guys," Paranica said. "They stayed calm and played hard from the drop of the puck until the end. They had frustrating moments, but the credit to them was staying with it."
Both Grand Forks schools now travel to Bismarck next weekend for Friday and Saturday doubleheaders against Bismarck High and Bismarck Century.
GF Central 3,
GF Red River 1
First period -- 1. RR, Brenden Mullen (Mason Thingvold, Justin Wasvick) 3:22; 2. GFC, Braden Panzer (Zachary Larson, Brandon McGarry) 12:45
Third period -- 3. GFC, Panzer (William Lawson-Body, Chase Spicer) 2:45; 4. GFC, Lawson-Body (Spicer, Panzer) 6:56
Goalie saves -- GFC: Kolby Elseth 1-8-6 -- 15; RR: Noah Burger 8-9-2 -- 19