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Heath Hotzler, Published February 28 2009

Overtime oddity: Red River advances thanks to an unlikely goal scorer

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – It must have been Unlikely Hero Night on Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Senior defenseman Ian Leier, whose coach says is the most unlikely starter to score a goal, cranked a slap shot from just inside the blue line into the net 1 minute, 25 seconds into overtime to give Grand Forks Red River a 2-1 North Dakota state boys hockey tournament semifinal victory against Fargo South.

The Roughriders will face Bismarck at 8 p.m. today in the final at Engelstad Arena.

“For him to score a goal – good for him,” Red River coach Matt Malm said.

Leier’s shot appeared to deflect slightly off a South player before sailing past South standout goalie Scott Buchholz.

It was Leier’s third goal in 26 games this season.

And he wasn’t the only unusual star for the Roughriders.

Sophomore forward Brock Dahl broke the scoreless tie with a wrist shot past Buchholz with 48 seconds remaining in the second.

Dahl entered the tournament with just two goals. He scored twice in Red River’s 6-2 win against Minot in the first round of the tournament.

“He works hard,” Malm said of Dahl. “That’s why Jordan (Bancroft) likes him on his line. He works so hard.”

A back-and-forth struggle to get shots on net carried over into the second period.

Red River had just nine shots on Buchholz through two periods.

South spent much more time in their offensive zone, but still couldn’t manage to break through on Red River goaltender Aaron Meland.

The Bruins piled up quality chances, and Meland turned them away.

The senior had 14 stops in the second period.

“I got lucky,” said Meland, whose team was 0-2 against South during the regular season. “A lot of them went right into me. Props to (South). They definitely peppered me.”

South’s Grant Narveson tied the game at 1-1 at 5:49 of the third period.

The game opened as a defensive battle.

The teams combined for just nine shots on goal en route to a scoreless first period.

However, the Bruins seemed to get better chances on Meland.

South shined on defense, killing off back-to-back penalties early in the first to preserve the scoreless tie.

Buchholz was rarely tested in the first, stopping all three shots he faced in the period.

“In the second period, (South) should’ve got a couple,” Malm said. “They didn’t capitalize on their chances. … I’ll tell you what, we ended up scoring one more goal than them and that’s what counts.”

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, GFRR, Dahl (Bancroft, Fugleberg), 16:12

THIRD PERIOD: 2, FS, Narveson (Mauch), 5:49.

OVERTIME: 3, Leier (Waind), 1:25.

SAVES: FS, Buchholz 3-8-8-0–19. GFRR, Meland 6-14-15-0–35.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com