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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published February 16 2013

Red River tops Grafton-Park River for East Region hockey title

GRAND FORKS – After the North Dakota East Region boys hockey championship game Saturday, Grand Forks Red River coach Bill Chase addressed his team and finished with a short message.

Stay on a roll.

The Roughriders capped an impressive region tournament with a 6-3 victory over Grafton-Park River in the title game at Purpur Arena.

The Roughriders, who came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, scored 19 goals in three tournament games.

“We’re playing the best hockey we have all year,” said Red River freshman forward Matt Christian, who had two goals against the Spoilers.

Red River will take the East’s No. 1 seed into the upcoming state tournament. The Roughriders will play Jamestown at noon Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Spoilers will be the No. 2 seed and will face Bismarck High at approximately 7:30 p.m.

“We’re playing more disciplined than we were earlier in the year,” Chase said.

According to Chase, Red River’s recent surge can also be attributed to the play of Red River defender Jon Lizotte, who was named co-East Region senior athlete of the year.

Lizotte had three assists against the Spoilers, including one laser pass on the power play to Christian that gave Red River a 5-2 lead in the third period.

“Jon is playing so well,” Chase said. “That’s making such a difference for us. He found that lane with Matt and put the puck right on his tape.”

Christian’s power-play goal from Lizotte wasn’t the only highlight-reel score in the third period for the Roughriders.

To cap the scoring, Red River junior forward Jacob Benson carried the offensive zone all alone against two defenders. Benson dumped the puck toward the net and spun around 360 degrees as he squeezed between both defenders. After his twirl, Benson was back on the puck in time to tip it in for a 6-3 Red River lead.

“That’s puck awareness,” Chase said. “The type of player he is, he knows where the puck is when it’s been blocked or deflected. Most guys have their heads spinning around.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GFRR, B. Lunski (Norman, Lizotte) 1:07. 2, GFRR, Christian (B. Lunski, J. Lunski) 15:37.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, GPR, Gorder (Miller) 13:46. 4, GFRR, Kuntz 15:29. 5, GFRR, Johnson (Lizotte) 16:54.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, GPR, Miller (Hills, Thompson) 1:02. 7, GFRR, Christian (Lizotte, Benson) 5:32. 8, GPR, Miller (Cudmore, Robideaux) 6:24. 9, GFRR, Benson 12:03.

SAVES: GPR, Nelson 7-9-10–26. GFRR, Sauve 7-7-4–18.

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald