More was on the line than usual Thursday night at Purpur Arena in the East Region tournament semifinals.

As always, there was a North Dakota state tournament berth on the line.

But this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first round of the state tournament is played at the home site of top seeds. That means the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds from the East Region are headed to the West Region on Tuesday night.

That's no worry for the Knights. They made sure they're staying home.

Central used a hat trick from Braden Panzer and two goals from Dom Gerszewski to put running time on Fargo Davies in an 8-1 victory.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

"That's huge," Central senior forward Brendan White said of earning home ice to start state. "That's motivation and incentive to win this game and stay home."

The Knights made sure of that with a four-goal first period.

"This means you don't have to travel Tuesday and this is the berth to state, so this is the most important game of the season so far," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "I thought we did lots of things well. We pushed the pace, were physical and owned the corner battles. That was probably our most complete game all season."

The Knights improved to 18-2-1, while Davies dropped to 13-7-0.

Gerszewski scored twice in the first period, as Central's second line (Gerszewski, White and Connor Litzinger) put together one of its best performances of the season.

Gerszewski and Litzinger were out of the lineup at times earlier this season, and their reunion could be key to Central's state championship hopes.

"They've had chances, and they had a little frustration set in when they were out of the lineup and not getting in a rhythm," Paranica said. "They're back together, playing well and providing good secondary scoring."

Litzinger added two assists, while White had a goal and an assist.

"Before the game, (the second line) was talking about how we had a bad one a couple of days ago and just brought ourselves together and played hard," White said.

Joey Kennelly and Carson Seng also scored for the Knights, while Davies received its lone goal from Cam Bullinger at 11:59 of the third period.

Central outshot Davies 39-19.

The Knights will play Grand Forks Red River in the region championship game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Purpur Arena.

GF Central 8,

Fargo Davies 1

First period -- 1. GFC, Dom Gerszewski (Dillon Kuntz, Brendan White) 4:22; 2. GFC, Joey Kennelly (Chase Spicer) 6:47; 3. GFC, Braden Panzer (Kennelly, Kuntz) 11:42; 4. GFC, Gerszewski (White) 14:39

Second period -- 5. GFC, White (Connor Litzinger) 5:14; 6. GFC, Carson Seng (Gerszewski, Litzinger) 15:32

Third period -- 7. GFC, Panzer (Kuntz) 1:04; 8. GFC, Panzer (Spicer, Kennelly) 10:52; 9. FD, Cam Bullinger (Barron Stibbe) 11:59

Goalie saves -- GFC: Kolby Elseth 9-4-4 -- 17, Jack Jahnke x-x-1 -- 1; FD: Trent Wiemken 14-9-8 --31