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Tom Mix, Published February 21 2013

Grand Forks cruises past Fargo North in girls hockey state quarterfinals

GRAND FORKS – After getting called for an early penalty on Thursday, Grand Forks would have been happy just to kill the minor infraction and try to regroup.

Instead, senior center Nicole Novak made a move and scored a short-handed goal. Novak’s opening score set the course for the KnightRiders’ 4-1 win over Fargo North during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota state girls hockey tournament at Olympic Arena.

“Novak made a nice play,” Grand Forks head coach Darin Schumacher said. “Their defense mishandled the puck at the blue line and she took advantage. She has been working hard on her penalty kill. She does get quite a few breakaways, but she hasn’t put many in this year. She put one in at the right time on that breakaway.”

Novak is tied with Fargo South’s Alex Woken for fourth on the state’s scoring leaderboard with 57 points. Novak’s goal – her 22nd of the season – came 2 minutes, 22 seconds into the game.

Grand Forks, the No. 2 seed and state runners-up a year ago, advances to the today’s semifinal round at Ralph Engelstad Arena where it will play Bismarck. The game will begin 30 minutes following the noon semifinal game between West Fargo and Jamestown.

Ashley Becker and Peyton LeNoir added goals in the second period for the KnightRiders (17-7-0).

“In the first period, (North) bottled us up and tried to keep the puck in the middle of the rink,” Schumacher said. “Once we used the width of the sheet here at Olympic Arena we started to advantage on offense.”

North answered with a power-play goal scored by senior center Sam Hagen with 20 seconds remaining in the second period.

The Spartans have played in all 11 state tournaments and have won a record five state championships. Thursday’s loss marks the first time in school history that North hasn’t advanced to the semifinals.

“Unfortunately, we fell behind and had to battle back,” North head coach Kris Dougherty said. “I think in a lot of situations we did a good job of doing that. We just didn’t do enough of it. We picked ourselves up and made some good things happen throughout the game. Unfortunately, most of them came when time was running out in a period.”

North (9-15-0) plays Minot in the consolation semifinals today at Olympic Arena. The game will begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of the 5:30 p.m. consolation semifinal.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GF, Nicole Novack, 2:22 (sh).

SECOND PERIOD: GF, Becker, (Brossart), 4:01. 2, GF, LeNoir, (Becker), 6:03. 4, FN, Hagen, (Vannett, B. Pladson), 16:40 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 5, GF, O’Halloran, (Schlosser), 1:23 (pp).

SAVES: GF, Swendseid 5-9-6–20. FN, O. Pladson 7-10-6–23.

Bismarck 3, Minot 0

Abby Beehler, Lauren Bischof and Haleigh Springan all scored first-period goals for Bismarck, which helped the Blizzard to a 3-0 win over Minot in the quarterfinals.

The three goals were scored in the span of 2:24.

“We got those three quick goals and played a little conservative not taking chances with passes up the middle,” Bismarck Century head coach Annie Cashman said. “Maybe we took our foot off the gas, but they didn’t score a goal and that is huge in the first round of the state tournament.”

Bismarck advances to today’s semifinal round to play Grand Forks. The game will begin 30 minutes following the noon semifinals game. It is the first time No. 3-seeded Bismarck (17-7-0) has advanced to the semifinals since 2009.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, B, Beehler, (Wike), 6:31. 2, B, Bischof, 7:48. 3, B, Springan, 8:55.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: B, Blair 2-11-5–18. M, Galvin 5-8-2–15.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562