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No. 1 Red River rolls by Devils Lake 9-1

Jake Grandstrand finishes with a hat trick and five points.

RR DL1.jpg
Red River players celebrate a goal in the first period against Devils Lake Thursday at the Eagles Arena.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — There was an onslaught of offense on display Thursday as Grand Forks Red River backed up its No. 1 ranking with a 9-1 win over Devils Lake at Eagles Arena.

Backed by a hat trick and five-point effort from Jake Grandstrand, the Roughriders outshot the Firebirds 55-10 through three periods.

“One of the things I like to see is us play the game fast and physical. When we are successful that is happening. Obviously we’re not perfect but we were definitely fast and physical today,” Red River head coach Tim Skarperud said.

The first period hit the hardest with the Roughriders quickly getting out to a 5-1 lead.

Cooper Freije, Mason Ray, Grandstrand, Mason Reynolds all lit the lamp, with Ray scoring two on rockets from deep in the slot. The shots were so relentless that Grandstrand and Reynolds scored just 15 seconds apart. In total shots were 18-3 at the end of the opening period.

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It’s a start that Skarperud has been asking for this year from his top-ranked squad.

“That’s what we talked about at the start of the game was making sure we were ready to go,” Skarperud said. “Definitely great to see a good first period. They guys were jumping and were ready to go at the start of the game.”

For the Firebirds, head coach Tate Aronson has been looking to find an identity for his team in his first year behind the bench. The opening frame was bleak, but the response is what Aronson looks for.

“We had a lot of inexperienced guys (at the beginning of the year), they knew how to work hard but they needed to know how to work smart. Over these last four or five games we’ve really seen some strides forward,” he said.

While they may not be getting the results they want, these games offer a chance to build a foundation for a program that is looking to build itself up in the East Region.

“If you ask anybody, we are a lot better than when we started. We are doing a lot of things that are head and shoulders better and they have surprised me a couple of times against some tough opponents,” Aronson said.

After a second Reynolds goal in the second period, Grandstrand was able to complete his hat trick in the third period. He flew by the Devils Lake defense and scored nine seconds into the final frame and then picked up his third eight minutes later on a dish from Mikey Coleman.

In the 9-1 win, the line of Grandstrand, Coleman and RyLee Vetsch all picked up multiple points, helping boost their confidence heading into a final regular-season stretch, and a big matchup with Fargo North on Friday.

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“That line was buzzing tonight and they were rewarded for it and that’s great to see,” Skarperud said. “What it does is build confidence for us down the road. We’ve got all four lines that can do a lot of good things and know what it takes to have success.”

Their ninth EDC win gives the Riders 28 points and a small first-place cushion heading into that matchup.

After Fargo North, Red River will play Bismarck on Saturday in Jamestown during the annual North Dakota Hockey Day before returning to conference play with a rivalry battle with Grand Forks Central on Jan. 25.

“Tomorrow night is going to be a great test at Fargo North. They are going to be ready to go and we’re going to make sure we’re ready for all three periods,” said Skarperud.

Grand Forks Red River 9,

Devils Lake 1

First period – 1-0 RR: Cooper Freije (Michael Coleman, Jacob Grandstrand), 2-0 RR; Mason Ray (Mason Stroh, RyLee Vetsch), 3-0 RR: Grandstrand (Coleman), 4-0 RR: Mason Reynolds (Carter Sproule), 5-0 RR: Ray (Coleman, Vetsch) PP, 5-1 DL: Caleb Schwab (Max Langton)

Second period – 6-1 RR: Reynolds (Sproule, Carson Skarperud)

Third period – 7-1 RR: Grandstrand, 8-1 RR: Grandstrand (Coleman), 9-1 RR: Coleman (Grandstrand, Vetsch)

Goalie saves – RR: Jacob Jenkins 9 saves, DL: Zach White 46 saves

Related Topics: BOYS HOCKEY
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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