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After slow start on the road, Grand Forks Red River flexes depth in home-opening 9-1 win over Devils Lake

Red River outshot the Firebirds 56-9 in a comfortable win Thursday night at Eagles Arena.

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Devils Lake goaltender Brody Forsberg (1) rushes to cover the puck as Red River forward Mason Reynolds (22) closes in at the edge of the Firebirds' crease in the first period of a boys hockey game at Eagles Arena in Grand Forks on Thursday, December 1, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team returned its top four scorers from last season's state championship team.

The Roughriders, though, gave up eight goals in two road games to start the 2022-23 season including a one-goal loss to Fargo South-Shanley on Tuesday.

On Thursday night in the team's home opener, the Riders had overwhelming depth and skill in beating Devils Lake 9-1 at Eagles Arena.

"I think it was good," Red River coach Tim Skarperud said of losing Game 2 of this season. "I think it's a great wake-up call. It was a great contest. South's a great team. It's 1-2 in preseason rankings. I think in the long run it'll make us better. You never want to lose, but if you're going to lose you want to learn lessons in the long run."

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Red River goaltender Jake Jenkins stops a Devils Lake shot to the chest in the first period of a boys hockey matchup at Eagles Arena in Grand Forks on Thursday, December 1, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Mason Reynolds, Dillon Jackson and Luc Bydal each had two goals against Devils Lake, while Rylee Vetsch, Carter Sproule and Rylan Bydal all added one goal.

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For Reynolds and Jackson, the two now have four goals on the season already.

"We moved the puck as a team and played in all three areas of the ice, and it got better as the game went along," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the Roughriders are getting to work, fixing some of the problem areas in their game that arose against the Bruins.

"They're a good team, and we knew that going into the game," Reynolds said. "We think once we fix some of the mistakes that led to those goals, we can beat those guys."

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Red River forward Mason Reynolds fires the puck past Devils Lake goaltender Brody Forsberg, right, for a second period goal during a boys hockey matchup at Eagles Arena in Grand Forks on Thursday, December 1, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Not only did Red River return its top four scorers from last season, but the Riders return 11 of the top 14 scorers.

That was on display against Devils Lake, where Red River outshot the Firebirds 56-9.

Devils Lake's lone goal came in the first period by Isaac Thompson on the power play.

Red River finished with six power-play goals as the Firebirds took 14 penalties for a total of 44 minutes.

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"I think our 200-foot effort got better as the game went on," Skarperud said. "We were back-checking hard. That's what we talked about; committing to that 200-foot game."

In addition to the goal-scorers, Mikey Coleman added three assists, while Carson Skarperud and Vetsch also had three.

"Our depth on all fronts is pretty good but there's only one puck," Tim Skarperud said. "You can't get frustrated when it's not going your way. Offensively, we're great but we have to make sure we're taking care of our own end and do our job there to make sure we're successful in the long run."

GF Red River 9,
Devils Lake 1
First period — 1. RR, Mason Reynolds (Rylee Vetsch, Grant Gardner) 4:54; 2. DL, Isaac Thompson (Brody Parker, Caleb Schwab) 13:10; 3. RR, Dillon Jackson (Carson Skarperud, Mikey Coleman) 14:04
Second period — 4. RR, Luc Bydal (Mason Straoh, Gardner) 1:22; 5. RR, Reynolds (Vetsch, Skarperud) 5:29; 6. RR, Bydal (Reynolds, Vetsch) 13:46; 7. RR, Vetsch (Skarperud) 16:36
Third period — 8. RR, Jackson (Carter Sproule, Coleman) 3:09; 9. RR, Sproule (Jackson, Coleman) 9:52; 10. RR, Rylan Bydal (Skarperud, Garrett Eickman) 12:19
Goalie saves — RR: Jake Jenkins 5-3-x — 8, Tucker Hagar x-x-0 — 0; DL: Brody Forsberg 17-18-12 — 47

Related Topics: GF RED 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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