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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published February 22 2013

Grafton-Park River wins ND state boys hockey semifinal

GRAND FORKS – Sometimes, Jade Miller admits, it’s better to be lucky than good.

The Grafton-Park River junior bounced a goal off the back of an opponent Friday night. That gave the Spoilers a 5-3 lead, a two-goal margin they maintained the rest of the way in defeating Bismarck Century 6-4 in the semifinals of the North Dakota state boys high school hockey tournament.

The Spoilers will meet Grand Forks Red River for the state title at approximately 7:30 p.m. today at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Miller approached the net from the right side and his shot hit the side of the net. He recovered the puck, threw it back and the puck bounced off the back of goalie Jack Abfalter and into the net.

“I knew there were two Century guys both down,” Miller said. “I fired it, looked back and saw it hit the back of the goalie and go in.

“I got pretty lucky. But I’ll take a goal any way I can get one.”

It stayed 5-3 until Johnny Robideaux scored on an empty net with 1:34 left. Century’s Jeff Gendreau made the final 6-4 score with a goal with 3 seconds remaining.

Grafton-Park River finished strong after a slow start.

Century led 2-1 after the first period. But Grafton-Park River scored three goals unanswered goals in the first 8:38 of the second period to go ahead to stay.

Peter Hills tied the score on a power-play goal at the 1:02 mark. Then Zach Feltman intercepted a pass on the left side and centered to Cole Rehovsky, who scored. Brett Longtin made it 4-2 when he scored on a 1-on-2.

“We didn’t come out (in the first period) with the energy we needed,” Grafton-Park River coach Scott Petersen said. “But the kids picked up the intensity in the second period. I thought that was the difference. And we didn’t take good care of the puck early. We took care of it a little better after the first.

“Cole has a great shot. He went hard to the net.”

Abfalter finished with 20 saves. Spoilers goalie Zach Nelson had 26, including several big ones in a 14-save third period.

And then there was Miller’s goal. “Sometimes you get good bounces,” Petersen said. “We got a good one.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GPR, Peterson (Hills, Rehovsky), :45. 2, BC, Kelly (Flicek), 2:51. 3, BC, Hruby, 8:48.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, GPR, Hills (Thompson), 1:02. 5, GPR, Rehovsky (Feltman, Hills), 3:50. 6, GPR, Longtin (Woinarowicz), 8:38. 7, BC, Rauhauser (Anderson), 15:35.

THIRD PERIOD: 8, GPR, Miller (Robideaux), 5:35. 9, GPR, Robideaux (Miller), 15:26. 10, BC, Gendreau (Hruby) 16:57.

SAVES: BC, Abfalter 4-9-7-20. GPR, Nelson 7-5-14-26.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald