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Hot-starting GF teams to meet this week

Through the first few weeks of the season, the Grand Forks boys hockey programs Central and Red River have established themselves as the state's top two teams.

Through the first few weeks of the season, the Grand Forks boys hockey programs Central and Red River have established themselves as the state's top two teams.

On Thursday, they'll decide who is No. 1.

Central (7-1) and Red River (6-1-1) will meet at 7:30 p.m. at Purpur Arena in the rivalry's first matchup of the season.

Neither team has lost to a North Dakota opponent this year.

"We've gotten off to a very good start both in league play and overall," Central coach Tony Bina said. "We've done a good job setting the tone for the year."

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Said Red River coach Bill Chase: "It was a good start to the year. We've done a little bit better than we thought we would. People are stepping up."

The matchup will feature offenses with opposite strengths.

Red River's offense is dominated by a talented top line. Jake LaDouceur and Casey Fugleberg are the state's top two scorers with 25 and 24 points, respectively. After that, however, the Riders are searching for scoring. Red River's next leading scorers -- Josh Gilbertson and Alan Zahui -- have eight points apiece.

"I think the line of Fugleberg and LaDouceur is a talented group," Bina said. "We have to keep them in check. Red River goes when they go. We have to limit their chances."

Central, meanwhile, generates offense through depth. The Knights have seven players with at least eight points.

Junior forward Casey Purpur leads the way with 16 points, followed by Johnny Simonson and Brenden Gust with 13 apiece. Danny Ray is the top scoring defenseman in the state with 10 points. Paul LaDue, Aaron Hatt and Luke Johnson have each chipped in eight points.

"They're strong all the way through," Chase said. "All their forwards and defensemen are doing well. It'll be a big challenge. We have to be ready."

Central's also been strong defensively. The group has been led by Ray, LaDue, Jeremy O'Keefe and David Nelson. Through eight games, the Knights have given up more than 13 shots in a game only once.

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Knights goalie Seth Lang, in seven games played, is giving up 0.57 goals per game.

"Our goaltending has been good," Bina said. "Seth doesn't get enough credit because he sees limited shots. But those shots he is seeing are usually good opportunities.

"We play pretty tight defense. We force teams to perimeter shots or no shots at all. We hold most teams to under 15 shots. That's a stat we hold a lot of pride in."

For the Riders to crack the Knights' stifling defense, Chase said they're going to have to receive some scoring from more than just one line.

"We need three lines that can all put the puck in the net," Chase said. "Our second and third lines have started slow. But Alan Zahui has been picking it up. We need two or three lines going strong. Especially against these upper-level teams, we need more than one line."

Malm benefit coincides with rivalry game

The Grand Forks boys hockey rivalry between Central and Red River will also feature a benefit for a coach that has seen his share of the crosstown matchup.

A silent auction and free will offering will be held to benefit former Red River coach Matt Malm, who resigned after last season.

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Two months after Malm's resignation from the Riders, doctors discovered a brain tumor -- Malm's second bout with a brain tumor.

Malm had a benign brain tumor successfully removed in 2002.

This time, Malm has had 90 percent of the tumor removed and gone through six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.

On Jan. 4, Malm will receive another MRI to determine if the treatment was successful.

The benefit is Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., during the Red River and Central junior varsity and varsity games, at Purpur Arena.

Malm coached the Riders for 11 seasons. He went to nine state championships, winning five during that time.

After sizzling start, Farroh to miss time

Through the first three games of the high school girls basketball season, Grand Forks Central post Caitlin Farroh is averaging more than 25 points and 20 rebounds.

The only thing to slow Farroh down this season is mononucleosis.

The illness is expected to sideline Farroh, who missed last week's game against Minot, for at least two weeks.

"It's not a secret that if you take her out of our lineup, it's going to have an impact," Central coach Brent Hintz said. "It changes our style of play."

Not only was Farroh averaging more than 27 points and 23 rebounds, but the 5-foot-11 junior was also averaging about 8 blocks, 4 steals and 3 assists per game.

"It's unfortunate for her because she was playing so well," Hintz said. "I know it's driving her crazy to sit out.

"We're trying to view it as a positive thing because it'll force us to develop our depth a little more. In the long run, provided Caitlin comes back healthy, it'll make us a better team."

After a 59-52 loss to Minot last Tuesday, the Knights are 2-2 this season.

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSRED RIVER
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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