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Red River escapes upset bid with 3-2 win over Fargo North in double overtime

The Roughriders used two goals from sophomore Grant Gardner to win Monday's state qualifier over Fargo North.

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Grand Forks Red River goalie Noah Burger defends a play during the second period of the Riders' game against Fargo North Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team needed double overtime Monday to ensure this year's North Dakota state tournament wasn't the first without any Grand Forks representation.

Fargo North goalie Ryan Robison made 57 saves but Red River sophomore Grant Gardner scored a wraparound goal at 9 minutes, 18 seconds of double overtime to lift the Roughriders to a 3-2 win over the Spartans at Purpur Arena.

"We didn't want to be done with the year," said Gardner, who also scored shorthanded for Red River in the first period.

The Riders, who improved to 18-5-0, will take the region's No. 3 seed into this weekend's state tournament in Fargo. Red River will play West Region No. 2 Bismarck Legacy (13-11) in the late game Thursday, which starts 30 minutes after the 5:30 p.m. game has ended.

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Red River's Ethan Dockter (24) handles the puck as teammate Jake Grandstrand (25) looks on during the Riders' game against Fargo North Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

But the Riders nearly fell to the same fate as Grand Forks Central earlier in the day. The Knights lost to West Fargo Sheyenne, marking the first time missing the state tournament for the Knights since 2013. Red River has only missed one state tournament (2010), so every state event has featured one of the two teams.


"That's the scary thing about these one-game deals ... you never know what's going to happen," Red River coach Tim Skarperud said. "Give (North) credit. They're good defensively. (Robison) is a really good goalie. They did a good job blocking lanes. We peppered and peppered. You get a little nervous there when you know it's a one-goal game but give our guys credit, they didn't give up and didn't panic."

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Grand Forks Red River's Luc Bydal reaches for the puck between Fargo North's Marcus Ellingson (left) and John Martin during their game Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

Against the Spartans, Red River held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 but couldn't shake North, despite finishing with an edge in shots on goal of 60-21.

The Riders couldn't score with the man advantage in the final minute of the third period, another minor penalty in the first overtime and another early in the second overtime.

The Spartans used two goals from Nathaniel Fritel, the East Region Senior Athlete of the Year, to stay with the Riders.

Fritel's goal at 13:09 of the third period tied the game at 2-2.

"I thought we got into a spot where we had to defend, defend, defend," North coach Tyler Klein said. "We tip our hat to (Red River) because they put us in that spot. But there were little pockets inside of the game where we really pushed hard and all of a sudden the puck started to bounce our way. Our guys worked so hard."

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Fargo North senior Connor Holm looks to shoot past the defense of Red River's Mason Ray during their regional game Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.