Purpur, Ladue lead Central past Riders
The Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team turned in one of its best performances of the season Tuesday night at Purpur Arena. It was simply more proof that nothing these days seems to slow down Grand Forks Central. The Knights received three poi...
The Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team turned in one of its best performances of the season Tuesday night at Purpur Arena.
It was simply more proof that nothing these days seems to slow down Grand Forks Central.
The Knights received three points apiece from Casey Purpur and Paul LaDue and limited Red River to 15 shots on goal as Central defeated Red River 3-1 in the final regular-season matchup between the crosstown rivals.
The Knights improved to 15-2, while Red River dropped to 10-5-2.
"Both teams played very well," Central coach Tony Bina said. "Our depth and perseverance just outlasted them."
After the game, Grand Forks hockey legend Serge Gambucci presented Central with the Gambucci Cup, which goes to the top boys hockey team in Greater Grand Forks each season.
The Knights, who went 4-0 against Red River and East Grand Forks Senior High this season, swept the season series against the Roughriders for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
"It means a lot to win the cup and go 4-0," LaDue said. "It's especially an honor to get it from (Serge Gambucci)."
LaDue, the state's top scoring defenseman, got the Knights started in the second period. LaDue scored a power-play goal at 2 minutes, 46 seconds on assists from Purpur and Luke Johnson.
The Roughriders answered quickly. Just more than a minute later, Red River freshman defenseman Jon Lizotte took the puck from the left point and hit forward Jordan Love back door for a point-blank look. Love put it past Central goalie Seth Lang to tie it at 1.
But Purpur scored the game-winner before the end of the middle period. Off a Johnson shot, Purpur batted home a rebound out of the air from the right circle.
Purpur also scored the only goal of the third period -- a wide-open look after a LaDue blast from the point deflected off the back boards.
In Central's 6-2 and 3-1 wins over Red River this season, Purpur has had a hand in all nine Knight goals.
Purpur leads the team with 19 goals and 22 assists.
"He's just a smart hockey player," Bina said. "He's a good playmaker, but he also puts himself in great positions. Like that goal off the back boards. Some might just think that's luck, but he's done it twice this year now. He saw how that was caroming off the wall."
Red River coach Bill Chase said you can only hold back Central's top line of Purpur, Johnson and Johnny Simonson for so long.
"We tried to pay those guys special attention," Chase said. "But you can only limit them as much as possible. They cycle the puck so well."
Rider goalie Bryan Nies stopped 28 shots, while Lang made 14 saves.
Nies, a sophomore, was solid in net, especially during a power play in the first period.
"We were ready to play, but Central came out hard," Chase said. "Bryan kept us in the game until we got going a little bit in the second period."
Despite Nies' strong play, Red River couldn't muster enough offense to rattle Lang and the Knights defense.
"I thought we played a good three periods of hockey and did what we needed to do to win," LaDue said.