South-Shanley beats Fargo Davies to set up anticipated title showdown with Grand Forks Red River
Although the Bruins lost to the Roughriders in the EDC championship, South-Shanley has two regular-season wins over Red River this year.
GRAND FORKS — The North Dakota state boys hockey championship will come down to the two teams leading the pack all season.
Fargo South-Shanley cemented a showdown in the title game with two second-period goals to beat Fargo Davies 4-0 in the state semifinals Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Bruins, who improved to 21-5-0, will face defending state champion Grand Forks Red River in the state title at 6:30 p.m. in a rematch of the 2020 state title in which the Roughriders won 4-1.
"I wouldn't want to play anyone else tomorrow night," Bruins senior forward Zach Boren said. "You have to beat the best to be the best, so we're going to try."
Against Davies, Boren scored a power-play goal at 4 minutes, 9 seconds of the second period, while John Lang made it 2-0 at 6:46 of the second.
Boren scored when Trevor Moe, camped in front of the net, tried to misdirect a shot from Will Hofer, who was in the right circle.
The tip attempt caromed to Boren for the goal.
Lang, meanwhile, scored when he chipped a puck to himself against the boards in the neutral zone. He entered the zone with a 3-on-2 rush and elected to keep for a snipe.
The Bruins tacked on a pair of empty-net goals for the final margin.
"We defended pretty well and kept shots to the outside," South-Shanley coach Dean French said. "We changed our power play this morning and made some adjustments, and we were able to get one on the power play. From there, we just defended."
The Eagles, denied an opportunity to get back to the state title game in which Davies finished runner-up, were shutout by South goalie Noel Olsonawski, who registered his 13th shutout of the season.
"We needed to compete better and smarter," Davies coach Nate Metcalf said. "The way we are built, we needed every puck to the net we could and three shots to the net in the third period isn't going to do it. We couldn't get it clicking. We were fighting the puck."
South-Shanley has a mixed bag of results against the Riders this season. The Bruins won the two regular-season meetings (5-4 in Fargo on Nov. 29 and 4-3 in Grand Forks on Jan. 13) but lost 8-3 in the EDC championship, albeit while starting their backup goalie.
"It's a different kind of matchup; we've been playing a lot of teams who have been trying to keep the games tight and low-scoring, and they're the diametric opposite," French said. "They want to race and go fast. I think we're one of the few teams who can skate with them. It's not necessarily our preferred style, but we can skate with them. We're going to have to do everything well."
The Bruins will be searching for their first state title since 2006, while defending champion Red River will try to win a fourth state title in eight years.