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Red River defeats East Grand Forks 7-1 in Gambucci Cup action

Juniors Luc Bydal and Grant Gardner combine for seven points in the win.

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Green Wave goaltender Chase Mero, right, react after Red River forward Luc Bydal (13) scored his second goal of the first period during a boys hockey game at Eagles Arena in Grand Forks on Thursday, December 22, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — In a matchup between two aptly colored teams right before the holiday break, Red River continued its hot streak of offense against East Grand Forks in a 7-1 win Thursday night at Eagles Arena.

Six skaters recorded multi-point efforts, including a four-point night for Grant Gardner and a three-point night for Luc Bydal. Bydal scored twice in the first period and Gardner provided an important insurance marker in the second.

“We came out and started with a really good first period and they had a really nice push in the middle of the second but that third goal that we scored from Gardner after they had made it a 2-1 game was a really big goal in the game and got us back playing the way we like,” Red River coach Tim Skarperud said.

The goal came immediately after Red River killed off a penalty and was reeling a bit. Hudson Kilgore sent Gardner in on a breakaway and the forward used a hesitation move to slip the puck through the five-hole of Chase Mero.

In the first period, Bydal got his goals after a substantial physical precedent was set for the night. Both teams delivered blows in open ice and along the boards, as is usually custom with these Gambucci Cup teams. As teams settled in, Bydal lifted a shot right off an offensive zone faceoff to open the scoring, then three minutes later deflected a slap shot from Mason Ray to push Red River out ahead and put the Riders in control.

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“I thought we responded well. It was a fast, physical game and I don’t think this was a 7-1 game. It was a lot closer than that. East Grand Forks played hard and fast and both teams were ready for the challenge,” said Skarperud.

Brock Schultz scored off the rush on a perfectly placed shot in the top far side corner in the second period, but Gardner came in clutch minutes later.

To cement things even further, 31 seconds into the third Dillon Jackson extended the lead for the Roughriders. Three more tallies, including a power play goal from Mikey Coleman, finalized the 7-1 score.

Underneath it all was a steady performance from senior goaltender Jake Jenkins. His 12 saves in the second period and 21 in the game were key in keeping Red River ahead. Plus, his demeanor supplied a sense of ease to the rest of the group.

“I think tonight was his steadiest game for sure. He showed some nice strides tonight and made some really nice saves. What I liked was he was nice and calm in the net. I thought he did a really nice job,” Skarperud said.

With 26 goals scored in the last four games, it has put Jenkins in a position this year where he has had a cushion with which to build confidence.

“It makes it a lot easier on me when the boys are going all out in the game. In a couple of games we’ve had a rough first period but it was really awesome to see everyone just going right away from the drop of the puck. Makes my life a lot easier,” Jenkins said.

After backing up as a junior last year, Jenkins is looking to solidify his crease this year. The high-powered offense Red River brings to the table doesn’t necessarily change his job as a goaltender, but in some ways allows for him to see the whole length of the ice.

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“I don’t go into a game thinking, 'oh it will be fine if I let a couple in tonight.' But it is nice when the guys get some in front of me. I can feel it too when all the forwards are going . That kind of radiates its way towards me. When people are moving I just feel I can see a lot more,” he said.

And some nights when everyone is on top of their game, he can even stop the pucks he never sees.

“There was a save in the third where I was screened by three or four guys in front of me. Couldn’t even see the puck but it hit the very tip of my glove and went over into the corner,” Jenkins said.

Red River now holds a 2-0 Gambucci Cup record after victories over Central and the Green Wave. East Grand Forks drops to a split, also previously beating Central on home ice.

Grand Forks Red River 7,

East Grand Forks 1

RR – 2 1 4 7

EGF – 0 1 0 1

First period – 1. RR: Luc Bydal (Grant Gardner), 2. RR: Luc Bydal (Mason Ray, Grant Gardner)

Second period – 3. EGF: Brock Schultz (Judd Pesch, Cooper Hills). 4. RR: Grant Gardner (Hudson Kilgore, Tyson Ulmer)

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Third period – 5. RR: Dillon Jackson (Mikey Coleman), 6. Tyson Ulmer (Grant Gardner, Garrett Eickman), 7. Mikey Coleman (Carter Sproule, Mason Ray), 8. Carter Sproule (Mason Stroh, Luc Bydal)

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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