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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published February 14 2014

West Fargo knocks off Grafton-PR to secure state boys hockey berth

GRAND FORKS – West Fargo’s Cinderella run is still alive.

The Packers entered the North Dakota East Region boys hockey tournament as the No. 7 seed. They’re now state tournament-bound and one win away from a region championship.

West Fargo beat No. 3 seed Grafton-Park River 2-1 in the region semifinals at Purpur Arena on Friday. That came after a 3-1 quarterfinal win against No. 2 seed Fargo Davies on Tuesday.

West Fargo (9-14-0) plays top seed Grand Forks Central at 5 p.m. today in the region final. Grafton-Park River (15-7-1) plays Fargo South-Shanley at 2:30 p.m. in a loser-out, state-qualifier game.

While West Fargo entered the regional on a three-game losing streak, “the last couple of weeks, we played pretty good hockey,” Packers co-coach Tim Capouch said. “Our younger players have gotten better and better.

“We lost two close games to Davies and to Grafton-Park River during the season. We thought we had a shot. We’re not surprised by where we’re at.”

The win came on a C.J. Lenzmeier goal at 2 minutes, 28 seconds in the third to break a 1-1 tie. Lenzmeier got the puck on the left side on a rush, beat a defender then scored from the faceoff circle.

“C.J. has one of the hardest wrist shots on the team,” Capouch said. “And he goes with a backhand on that shot.”

Grafton-Park River struck first. Jade Miller gained control of the puck along the boards in the neutral zone, beat a defender and skated in for a goal from the slot and a 1-0 lead at the 11:05 mark in the opening period. Miller scored with just five seconds left in a power play.

“It seemed like we started getting some momentum in the second,” Grafton-PR coach Scott Petersen said. “But their goalie had some big saves. We never bounced back after they tied it.

“West Fargo played strong defense. Their goal played extremely well. They pushed everything outside on us.”

The Packers pulled even in the second. Zach Nelson stopped a Jake Wasem shot. But the puck sat in the crease and Tyler Berginski pounced on the opportunity, slapping in the tying score with 7:20 left in the period.

Packers goalie Bailey Vareberg finished with 20 saves, while the Spoilers’ Zach Nelson turned back 24.

“Bailey has played two of his best games of the year (in the tournament),” Capouch said. “He made some really big saves.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, GPR, Jade Miller (Josh Burianek, Charlie Thompson) 11:05

SECOND PERIOD: 2. WF, Tyler Berginski (Jake Wasem) 9:40

THIRD PERIOD: 3. WF, C.J. Lenzmeier (Stone Sandoval) 2:28

SAVES: WF: Bailey Vareberg 5-10-5—20. GPR: Zach Nelson 8-12-4—24.

Grand Forks Central 1, Grand Forks Red River 0

Austin Johnson had only three goals in Grand Forks Central’s first 22 games this season.

Goal No. 4 came Friday night, and it was the Knights’ biggest of the season to date.

The junior wing’s goal 2:40 into overtime gave Central a 1-0 win against Grand Forks Red River in the semifinals.

The win qualifies Central (16-7-0) for the state tournament for the first time since 2011.

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

OVERTIME: 1, GFC, Austin Johnson (Hudson Warner, Cam Olstad) 2:40.

SAVES: GFRR, Aaron Sauve 12-7-10-1–30. GFC, Taner Bender 6-11-8-5–30.

Davies 4, North 3 (2 OT)

Aidan Hartness came through twice in the clutch to help the Eagles advance.

Hartness’ goal at the 10:10 mark of the third period tied the score at 3-3 to force overtime. Then he scored unassisted on a power play at 2:33 of the second overtime.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. FN, Jackson Graalum 16:06.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 2. FD, Bryan Pallen (Tristan Hartness) 2:45; 3. FD, Hartness (Aidan Hartness, Cody Haiskanen) 4:44; 4. FN, Alex Samek (Spencer Halming, Jacob Gunderson) 6:53; 5. FN, Grayson Klein (Jordan Sager, Tyrell Schloesser) 7:31; 6. FD, Aidan Hartness (Tristan Hartness) 10:10.

OVERTIME: No scoring.

SECOND OVERTIME: 7. FD, Aidan Hartness 2:33.

South-Shanley 8, Devils Lake 2

Tyler Bossert had a hat trick to lead South-Shanley to the win.

The Bruins also got two goals from both Riley Giauque and Tom George.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. FS, Tyler Bossert (Andrew Blumer, Tom George) 13:27; 2. FS, Bossert (Dallas Raftevold) 16:59.

SECOND PERIOD: 2. DL, Austin Moser (Cooper Knoke, Tanner Elshaug) 5:44; 4. FS, Blumer (Raftevold) 8:04; 5. FS, Riley Giauque (James Johannesson, Raftevold) 14:03; 6. FS, George (Blumer) 14:27.

THIRD PERIOD: 7. FS, Giauque (Raftevold) 4:07; 8. FS, Bossert (Blumer) 4:17; 9. DL, Moser 8:50; 10. FS, George 11:59.

SAVES: DL: Holden Kurtz 22-12-6–40. FS: Jake Salentine 8-7-4–19.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald