Fargo South-Shanley beats Red River in matchup of state tournament favorites
The Roughriders' only two losses this year are one-goal games against Fargo South-Shanley.
GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Red River, the defending North Dakota state champions, entered the weekend on an 11-game win streak.
Fargo South-Shanley came to Eagles Arena outscoring opponents 68-17 this year.
In a matchup of two state tournament favorites, the Bruins proved they're still the team to beat this year by knocking off the Roughriders 4-3 on Friday night to sweep the regular-season series.
The Bruins are responsible for Red River's only two losses this year.
"These two teams want to run, and you feel as a coach, you're trying to hold them back," South-Shanley coach Dean French said. "They make more mistakes than you'd like to see but both teams are very good at getting up the ice, so you just have to let them go sometimes. This game was very fast. I thought it was a very good game."
The game saw a number of momentum swings, with the Bruins scoring the game-winner on the power play just 49 seconds into the third period when John Lang — connecting on his team-leading 15th goal of the year — made it 4-3.
After no penalties were called for nearly the entire first two periods, Red River took a hooking penalty in the final minute of the second period, which led to the Bruins' power-play goal. The third period was marred with penalties as the teams combined to take seven penalties in the third period.
The Riders, who outshot the Bruins 34-28, spent much of the final few minutes on the penalty kill. Red River pulled goalie Bryar Werre with 45 seconds left and had an offensive zone faceoff with 34 seconds to go but couldn't generate many great looks.
"I don't think we were really committed to the full team game," Red River coach Tim Skarperud said. "To win big games like this, it's a full dedication to all of the little things. They played a better team game than we did."
South-Shanley goalie Noel Olsonawski made 31 saves. That's eight more shots in a game than Olsonawski has seen all season.
"They play hard and sound defensively," Skarperud said. "You have to earn everything against them, and they did a lot of the little things tonight."
Red River held leads of 1-0 on a Mason Ray first-period goal and 3-2 after Carter Sproule and Dillon Jackson scored in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
But the Bruins used goals from four different players in improving to 12-2, with team's lone in-state loss coming Dec. 22 against Fargo North (3-0).
"We defended pretty well in the zone," French said. "They're a complicated team. They can forecheck low and move it up high and go (defense-to-defense) and snap it on net, so you have to cover the entire zone well. We did that well. Where they hurt us was in transition a couple of times.
"We had some doubt (earlier in the year) in what style we want to play. We tried to get guys to focus more on the defensive side. Once we got everyone committed to both sides of the puck, our season picked up."
Fargo South-Shanley 4,GF Red River 3
First period – 1. RR, Mason Ray (Luc Bydal) 1:43; 2. FSS, Will Hofer (Chase Bry, Ben Spanier) 5:47; 3. FSS, Colten Nestler (Landon Meier, Camden Myers) 12:43
Second period – 4. RR, Carter Sproule (Dillon Jackson, Mikey Coleman) :50; 5. RR, Jackson (Bryar Werre) 9:47; 6. FSS, Gus Elbert (Bry) 13:52
Third period – 7. FSS, John Lang (Zach Boren, Zach Skarperud) :49
Goalie saves – FSS: Noel Olsonawski 11-10-10 – 31; RR: Bryar Werre 8-8-8 – 24