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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published February 18 2013

Grafton hockey team built around offense

GRAFTON, N.D. – The graduating class of 2012 left Grafton High School with voids to fill on its highly successful athletic teams.

State champion football and girls basketball teams were senior-dominated. So were the state runner-up baseball team and the boys basketball team that placed fifth at state.

But one area that brought a lot back this school year was the offense of the state runner-up Grafton-Park River boys hockey team.

“We graduated a lot on defense and in goal,” Spoilers coach Scott Petersen said. “But we had a lot of scorers coming back.

“Any time you get goal scorers back, that’s big. It’s hard to find the back of the net. We have a lot of kids with that experience, who know what it takes. That makes it a lot easier for a coach.”

The offense has led the way. The 13-9-2 Spoilers average 5.4 goals a game. The team takes the East Region’s No. 2 seed into Thursday’s quarterfinals of the North Dakota state tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Grafton-Park River plays Bismarck in a first-round game at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Grafton-Park River did graduate its top two scorers in all-staters Austin Campbell and Joey Demers. But seven of the next top eight scorers returned this season.

“It’s nice and balanced,” senior Cole Rehovsky said of the Spoilers’ offense. “We don’t feel the pressure of one or two guys having to score for us to win. We have a lot of offensive talent.”

Junior Jade Miller leads the way with 25 goals and 22 assists. He’s one of six players with more than 15 points, others being Peter Hills (33), Rehovsky (25) Levi Cudmore (20), John Robideaux (18) and Zach Peterson (17). All of them have already surpassed their point totals from a year ago.

Miller, Cudmore and Robideaux skate on the Spoilers’ first line, with Rehovsky, Hills and Peterson on the second. The two lines give opponents different looks.

“The first line is more finesse,” Petersen said. “The second line is more of a grinder type.”

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald