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Greenwood delivers in her 'biggest game of the year' as KnightRiders rally for 5-4 win over EGF

Greenwood, who scored twice in last year's Stick it to Cancer game, scores twice just two weeks after her mother, Nancy, was diagnosed

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Grand Forks forward Averi Greenwood, center, celebrates her game-winning goal with her fellow KnightRiders in the third period of the "Stick It To Cancer" girls hockey game against the East Grand Forks Senior High Green Wave at Purpur Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, December 16, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Stick It To Cancer Night is the biggest game of the year for many Grand Forks KnightRiders, but especially for Averi Greenwood.

Last year she scored both goals in a 2-0 win over East Grand Forks and discussed how much the event means to her, as her older sister Josie passed away from cancer at the age of three .

Just two weeks before this year’s game, her mother, Nancy, was diagnosed with cancer. Greenwood responded again in a dramatic 5-4 win Friday night, scoring the opening and game-winning goals as the KnightRiders overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the Green Wave.

“It’s really tough, but I’m always playing for her no matter what. This is the biggest game of the year for me,” Greenwood said. “We all have someone who has been affected by cancer so we always play for them and try to raise money to try to help other families.”

The Stick It To Cancer game has been taking place since 2017 to honor Janelle Mulroy, a former KnightRider parent who died from cancer in 2017. Last year the event raised $21,000.

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Current coach Alex Hedlund, the founder of the fundraiser game, is incredibly proud of what Greenwood has been able to accomplish on such a meaningful stage.

“Our KnightRider program has cared so much about this event and it is one of the most important things we do,” Hedlund said. “That kid has gone through hell and back but she finds a way to get it done when it matters most. It shows the type of person she is. Perseverance is one of my favorite words and that’s what the girls did tonight.”

Following the theme of the recent border battles, the latest edition of the East Grand Forks and Grand Forks KnightRiders annual game was a nail-biter.

Tied 4-4 late in the third period courtesy of a Taylor Kilgore goal during a chaotic net-mouth scramble, the KnightRiders battled back from two separate deficits. A 2-1 EGF lead in the first period was erased, and a 4-2 EGF lead was wiped out in the third.

With both sides battling back-and-forth, it appeared the game would be destined for overtime.

That was until just about the final minute of regulation. Lauren Robinson flung a puck on net from the point and Greenwood was able to put a stick on it to redirect it past the Green Wave goaltender and take the lead with 1:05 left on the clock.

“I wasn’t as happy with our performance right away, but we’ll blame that on the few days off the ice with the weather. We found a way to get it done,” Hedlund said.

Despite the score at times, the KnightRiders had control of the shot count and even finished with a 40-21 lead in the category. This was compounded in the third period when they doubled up the Green Wave 12-6 in shots.

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“Not every game is going to be pretty but good teams find ways to win hockey games. No matter what it is. Our quick mood on the bench was to light a fire. We were able to score a quick goal going into the third and I think that was important to go in down by one instead of down by two,” she said.

The first period on Friday was a story seen many times before for the Green Wave, Kara Ellis scoring points on back-to-back goals.

After the KnightRiders started the scoring via the Greenwood rebound goal, Ellis would answer back with a ripper of a shot on the rush that beat Kaylee Baker on the far side, off the post and in. Next, it was Blake Schultz that tapped in a big rebound set up by Ellis.

East Grand Forks would take the lead in the middle frame as well. A tying goal from Seeger was moot after Ellis and Schultz went back-to-back for the second time in the game. Ellis, on a shorthanded rush, finished off a two-on-zero opportunity, and Schultz saw a rebound come right to the blade of her stick and she buried it for a two-goal lead.

Despite this, the KnightRiders continued to apply pressure, leading the shot count considerably. A shift in momentum struck with 22 seconds remaining in the second. Mya Mannausau managed to sneak a seeing-eye shot past Britlyn Rasmussen and cut the deficit to one.

Then, Greenwood stepped up and sent the KnightRider bench into a frenzy.

“This is our favorite game of the year so we were really hyped and excited. We knew we would come back,” Greenwood said.

The KnightRiders now move to 4-1 on the season and continue to chase down a 4-0 Fargo Davies team ahead of them in the standings.

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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