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Central blanks Red River, advances to state high school hockey title game

Grand Forks Central goalie Kaleb Johnson gloves the puck late in the third period as Red River players Cole Forest and Dane Montgomery look on in Friday's semifinal game of the ND High School Hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. (Eric Hylden / Forum News Service)1 / 5
Grand Forks Central's Cole Hanson and linemates celebrate the Knight's first goal of the game against Red River in Friday's semifinal game of the ND High School Hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. (Eric Hylden / Forum News Service)2 / 5
Grand Forks Central's Lucas Kanta and linemates celebrate his short-handed goal against Red River in Friday's semifinal game of the ND High School Hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. (Eric Hylden / Forum News Service)3 / 5
Grand Forks Central's Mitch Idalski celebrates after scoring the Knights third goal of the game against Red River in Friday's semifinal game of the ND High School Hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Central's William Lawson-Body and Red River's Coby Tweten and Henry Fosse skate in the background. (Eric Hylden / Forum News Service)4 / 5
Grand Forks Central players Cole Wigestrand, Zack Murphy and Kaleb Johnson celebrate their 7-0 win over Red River in Friday's semifinal game of the ND High School Hockey tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. (Eric Hylden / Forum News Service)5 / 5

GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River played against each other at the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament Friday night, Feb. 23, for the first time in 13 years.

The rare rivalry meeting wasn't a close, competitive thriller.

In fact, it was the exact opposite.

Central scored four times in the second period and goalie Kaleb Johnson recorded his fifth consecutive shutout as the Knights blasted the Roughriders 7-0 in the state semifinals at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"We certainly had a lot of luck on our side," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "Things were going in for us. We had an effective forecheck. We caused turnovers and crashed the net hard. Our shots were from in tight and we put some in through scrums. I was happy with the way that went."

The Knights, 23-1-2, will play Bismarck Century in the state title game at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The Knights, who won their 16th-straight game, will be aiming for a second-straight title and the 27th in program history.

"We never stopped going after them, creating turnovers and capitalizing on our chances," Central sophomore William Lawson-Body said.

Central jumped the Riders early.

Cole Hanson made it 1-0 at 4:59 of the first. From behind the net, Kyler Briske made a backhand feed out front for Hanson, who scored his 13th goal of the year.

The Knights tacked on one more less than four minutes later. Zack Murphy scored on the power play with a snipe from the left faceoff circle to make it 2-0 at 8:42 of the opening period.

The Knights poured it on in the second with four goals. Lawson-Body scored twice in the second, while Mitchell Idalski and Lucas Kanta also added scores.

The second-period outburst for the Knights meant running time in the third period due to a six-goal mercy rule.

Jeffrey Hendrickson added a goal late in the third period for the final margin.

The lopsided, high-scoring result was a surprise, considering the teams played to a 2-2 tie and a 2-1 Central win in the two regular-season matchups.

"We would make a crucial mistake and just boom," said Red River coach Bill Chase, whose team dropped to 20-4-2. "We needed something to go early. I don't know if that would have made a major difference but we had a few chances early."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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