Spartans roll to semis: Fargo North wins quarterfinal for the first time since 2001
Fargo North and Bottineau/Rugby matched up strength against strength in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament. The Spartans revolve around all-East Region defenders Nick Harrie and Nick Schreiner, while the Braves are...
Fargo North and Bottineau/Rugby matched up strength against strength in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament.
The Spartans revolve around all-East Region defenders Nick Harrie and Nick Schreiner, while the Braves are led by the state's top two scorers in Harrison Aide and Logan Millican.
On Thursday, defense won the battle.
North limited Bottineau/Rugby's two stars to one assist as the Spartans cruised to a 4-1 win at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Spartans, who are appearing in the state tournament for the first time since 2008, advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2001. North, the East Region No. 2 seed, will play Fargo Davies at 6:30 p.m.
"Their 'D' is awfully solid," Bottineau/Rugby coach David Hoff said. "They're as good as they come -- that's the one thing scouting reports from East Region coaches came back with.
"I thought their defensive corps was really good in 1-on-1 situations today. They made it tough on Millican and Aide."
Millican, a senior, entered the game with 40 goals and 24 assists this year, while Aide, a sophomore, has 20 goals and 36 assists.
Aide assisted on the Braves' lone goal, scored by Cody Longie, in the first period.
"We didn't see (Bottineau/Rugby) in the regular season and we didn't know much about them," North coach Rob Aasand said. "So we had to just play our own game. We didn't worry about their game. We put pucks deep, skated hard and fore-checked."
Instead of Bottineau/Rugby's forwards stealing the spotlight, it was North sophomore Jackson Graalum warranting the attention.
Graalum scored two goals for the Spartans to bump his team-leading total to 17.
"Jackson stepped up big time," said Aasand, whose team also received goals by Brandon Smith and Max Teschendorf. "He was letting down toward the end of the season, maybe getting worn out. He's our leading scorer; it's playoff hockey and this is what we expect of him. Even with his age, he's got to carry the team."
Graalum scored the game's first goal and later spread the Spartans' lead to 3-1 with a tally in the second period.
"I just came ready to play today," Graalum said. "I was relaxed."
The Braves, who dropped to 19-6 overall, will play Bismarck High in the consolation bracket at 9:30 a.m. today in the REA's Olympic rink.
"No excuses, they were the better team today," said Hoff, whose team was outshot 37-18. "That's what it's all about at this point."