Red River holds on against Central with 1-0 win to control Gambucci Cup destiny
Mason Reynolds scored his 13th goal of the year with seven seconds left in the first period.
GRAND FORKS — A Mason Reynolds first-period marker was all the Grand Forks Roughriders needed to best Grand Forks Central in another physical matchup between the two rivals Tuesday night at Purpur Arena.
Behind that goal and a 19-save shutout from Noah Burger, Grand Forks Red River picked up a 1-0 win to control its Gambucci Cup destiny and keep its No. 1 ranking. It is Burger’s second shutout of the month.
“I think we did a nice job with puck management and keeping their chances to the outside. It was a smart hockey game, not the cleanest hockey game but we battled. I loved our competitiveness tonight,” Red River head coach Tim Skarperud said.
The Roughriders limited more Central shots as the game went on, with the Knights only putting four on Burger in the third period. A key contribution came from the shots that did not make it to Burger, as shot-blocking denied momentum to the chances Central did develop.
“A lot of that was due to shot-blocking. I thought we sacrificed our bodies really well tonight and it showed, and also Burger played well,” said Reynolds, who scored his team-leading 13th goal of the year.
Reynolds’ goal came with just seven seconds left in the first period. He was able to corral a loose puck from Carson Skarperud and fire a quick shot through Jaxon Washburn before the period could end.
“It was a great play from my two linemates, they both played the puck well. I just pulled it around the defenseman and shot it. I wasn’t even looking at the clock,” he said.
Now 2-0-1 in the Gambucci series this year, Red River will now have a chance to claim the title in their Feb. 3 game against East Grand Forks.
As for their battle for the top seed with Fargo Davies, the Eagles picked up an overtime win against Fargo South/Shanley and sit just three points behind the Roughriders in the EDC standings.
“What we like to look for this year is are we building for something,” said Skarperud. “Obviously you want to get the number one seed. At the same time I think the bigger thing is are we playing the game the right way as the season winds down.”
Carter Sproule and senior captain Wyatt LeDuc were given fighting majors and disqualifications at the end of regulation along with Central’s Dillon Kuntz and Colton Bjorgie. The Knights travel to Devils Lake on Thursday.
The calls were made after a large scrum ensued as time expired.
Sproule also collected an assist on the first-period goal and pushed his season point total to 32. He now sits tied for third in state scoring.
Among other goalies in the state, Burger now has the fifth-highest save percentage with 91.7%. Skarperud was pleased with how Burger moved in the crease in his 13th win of the year.
“Noah was rock solid. He was steady in there and has gotten better and better as the year has gone on,” he said.
After West Fargo, the Roughriders will host Grafton/Park River before meeting East Grand Forks on Feb. 3 at the Civic Center.