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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published February 22 2013

Red River shuts out Davies in ND state boys hockey semifinal

GRAND FORKS – Grand Forks Red River opened the season with a one-goal loss to Fargo Davies.

But Red River came into this week’s North Dakota state tournament as the favorite. The Roughriders have been on a roll.

The thought of that first-game loss to Davies, however, provided some extra motivation for Red River, which blanked Davies 2-0 on Friday night in the semifinal round of the tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Red River will play in tonight’s championship game. The Roughriders will be shooting for their fifth title since 2004.

After Red River’s season-opening loss, the Roughriders took two decisive wins against the Eagles – one coming in the Herald Stadstad Holiday Hockey Classic and the other during the regular season.

That did not comfort the Roughriders before the game.

“Any team can beat any team, and we had to keep that in mind,” said Red River’s Jon Lizotte, who scored a goal and picked up an assist as Red River improved to 20-5-1. “We were hoping to pop in a couple and get them on their heels.”

Red River achieved that. At 3:09 of the first period, Andy Norman scored on a blast from the left point.

Lizotte finished the scoring at 12:38 of the first as the senior defenseman’s low wrister beat Eagles’ goalie Tucker Windels nine seconds into a Roughriders’ power play.

Jacob Benson picked up the assist.

“Jacob and I switched our positions a little bit and got them confused,” Lizotte said of his goal. “I found the open lane and let it go.”

Red River outshot Davies 38-20 and had 10 quality scoring chances. Windels shut the door on the Roughriders a number of times.

“We wanted to go after them hard and fast,” Red River coach Bill Chase said. “The plan wasn’t to keep it at two goals. We weren’t holding back. We outshot them, but Windels didn’t give up many rebounds.”

Red River goalie Aaron Sauve came up big a couple of times, one coming midway through the second period. Sauve’s pad save on Davies’ Trevor Swangler kept the momentum with the Roughriders. It was one of a number of quality scoring opportunities by Davies.

“We had a few chances to score,” Davies coach Brian Davidson said. “We were there. We just didn’t get a couple of bounces on our side.”

Both Red River goals, said Davidson, came in traffic.

“You could tell from the bench our goalie never saw them,” Davidson said. “Red River made two good plays and that was the difference. In the state tournament, it’s tough to play from behind.”

Davies has had a program for three years and came close to reaching the title game.

“We’re past the building stage,” Davidson said. “We’re at the stage where we expect to be here. That’s our goal, to be here every year and play for a championship.”

Red River has that expectation as well. The Roughriders will be playing for their 16th title tonight.

“We have to eliminate mistakes and have energy,” Chase said. “That’s our game.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GFRR, Norman (Lizotte) 3:09. 2, GFRR, Lizotte (Benson, Lunski) 12:38 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: GFRR, Sauve 7-8-5–20. FD, Windels 8-19-9–36.

Nelson is the sports editor for the Grand Forks Herald