FARGO -- Most of the year, the Grand Forks Red River boys hockey program didn't possess an impressive resume.

The Roughriders didn't have a head coach until the week before the season started, opened the year 4-3-1, took the No. 4 seed into the East Region tournament and started the North Dakota state tournament without a scorer in the state's Top 40.

But on the final day of the season, the Riders' resume now has the ultimate bullet point: A state championship.

Red River used a suffocating style and two goals from junior forward Justin Wasvick to beat Fargo South/Shanley 4-1 in the state championship game Saturday night at Scheels Arena.

"Everyone doubted us in the beginning but you know we stuck to our game and played Rider hockey, and we believed in each other," Wasvick said. "It's unreal. The feeling, the atmosphere, the crowd here, the student section. It's unreal."

The Roughriders (18-7-2) won the program's 18th state title and first since 2016. The Rider victory, a sixth consecutive to end the year, means the state championship trophy stays in Grand Forks for a fifth-consecutive season.

"You watch those guys growing up and seeing older siblings get a ring, it's something you always dream for," Red River captain Connor Arel said. "I think we all had it in our mind. We had been playing so well the last couple of weeks, and we had that confidence coming into the tournament."

The Bruins (20-6-1) were facing an up-hill battle nearly the entire game.

Red River's Zach Hinschberger created a deep turnover that led to a Mason Thingvold goal to start the scoring at 11 minutes, 5 seconds of the first period.

Thingvold, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored four goals in the tournament and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"Mason has kept working on his game," Red River first-year coach Mike LaMoine said. "He just continued to work hard, and I couldn't be more proud of him. For state and EDC, he just played outstanding."

The Riders bumped the lead to 2-0 only 93 seconds later. After South-Shanley created heavy offensive pressure, Wasvick was sent on a 1-on-0 breakaway with a saucer pass from Morgan Hoefs.

Just 3:10 into the second period, Wasvick scored his second of the game and Jaxon Lian made it 4-0.

The lead was significant for a Red River team that hadn't given up four goals in a game to a North Dakota opponent all season. Also, the Bruins lost 2-0 to the Riders two games in a row heading into the state title game.

"The entire team worked so hard the entire year," Thingvold said. "At the start of the year, we knew we had a huge challenge ahead of us. We just had to battle it out."

The Bruins' lone goal came at 4:28 of the third when Alex Senf found Drew Sandy all alone out front to make it 4-1.

South/Shanley was searching for its first state title as a co-op. South, which last played in a state title in 2007, won the state championship most recently in 2006 and three times overall, while Shanley never won a title.

"It's pretty easy in the last game of the season to get a little uptight and hold the stick tight and try different things, but they stayed within their game," LaMoine said. "Super proud of them."



GF Red River 4,

Fargo South/Shanley 1

First period -- 1. RR, Mason Thingvold (Jake Grandstrand, Zach Hinschberger) 11:05; 2. RR, Justin Wasvick (Morgan Hoefs) 12:38

Second period -- 3. RR, Wasvick (Connor Arel, Wyatt LeDuc) :29; 4. RR, Jaxon Lian (Michael Coleman, Arel) 3:10

Third period -- 5. FSS, Drew Sandy (Alex Senf, Zach Boren) 4:28

Goalie saves -- RR: Nick Antonenko 8-5-3 -- 16; FSS: Zach Sandy 8-7-10 -- 25

All-tournament team

Defense -- Connor Arel, GF Red River, Isaac Balvitsch, Fargo Davies; forwards -- Alex Senf, Fargo South/Shanley, Drew Sandy, Fargo South/Shanley, Mason Thingvold, GF Red River; goalie -- Nick Antonenko, GF Red River

Tournament MVP -- Mason Thingvold, GF Red River

Coach of the year -- Grant Paranica, GF Central

Senior athlete of the year -- William Lawson-Body, GF Central