A hockey game can get away from a team quickly, especially when the opponent is as fast as Grafton-Park River.
Century took a first-period lead over the Spoilers, but couldn't hold it, as Grafton-Park River rattled off three quick ones in the second period en route to a 6-4 victory in the state tournament semifinals on Friday.
"The speed and the transition game got to us," Century coach Troy Olson said. "We got caught flatfooted way too many times. And they've got some skill guys who can put the puck away."
Things got off to a rocky start for Century when Grafton-Park River scored on its first shot of the game. Just 45 seconds in Zach Peterson scored from just inside the blue line.
Century didn't take long to respond. At the 2:51 mark, Brad Kelly circled around a Spoiler defender and went top shelf to tie the game. It was Kelly's fifth of the year.
The goal clearly sparked the Patriots, who generated several chances before Zach Hruby gave them the lead. The senior forward forced a turnover and was in alone on Grafton goalie Zach Nelson, going five-hold with a backhanded shot. Century took that 2-1 lead.
"It was nice to start with a good first period," Olson said. "It's been awhile. Things were going well for us. We did a lot of simple things. We were playing well in the neutral zone, got some pucks deep. We took advantage of a couple of turnovers there. I didn't think it was going to continue like that for the whole game."
It didn't. A Century penalty late in the first however led to a power-play goal for Grafton-Park River. The shot came from near the same spot as Peterson's and deflected past Century goalie Jack Abfalter.
"Any time you can get a goal, it's going to lift your team, but (a power-play goal) is hard on the other team, because that's something the other team can prevent by staying out of the penalty box," G-PR coach Scott Petersen said.
The Spoilers regained the lead at 3:50 of the second on a short-handed goal by Cole Rehovsky. Brett Longtin added another later in the period, scoring on a rush up the right wing to make it 4-2.
Alec Rauhauser gave
Century some life late in the second, slicing from right to left and beating Nelson for a pretty goal to make it 4-3 with 1:25 left in the period.
But Jade Miller restored the lead to two goals at 5:35 of the third.
"We didn't take care of the puck real well in the first period, making some not so smart passes," Petersen said. "After the first period we took care of the puck a little bit better, and it showed up on the scoreboard."
The Patriots nearly made it a one-goal game with 7:16 left in regulation.
Rauhauser used his speed to create a chance for Hruby, but Nelson was able to make the save.
The Spoilers got an empty-netter from Johnny Robideaux with 15:26, and Century got a late one from Jeff Gendreau with three seconds to play.
"We just pressed our luck too many times falling behind," Olson said. "It's a tough situation. We had some close ones, but we couldn't get the puck in the back of the net. That's how they measure it."
The Patriots were in the semifinals for just the third time in school history.
"It's definitely good to be playing for a shot to go to the championship," Olson said. You've got to credit Grafton. They're a good hockey team. They present some things that we don't get to see very often. And they played well tonight."
Grafton-PR 1 3 2 — 6
Century 2 1 1 — 4
First period: 1. G-PR, Zach Peterson 12 (Peter Hills, Cole Rehovsky), :45. 2. C, Brad Kelly 5 (Alex Flicek), 2:51. 3. C, Zach Hruby 14 (unassisted), 8:48.
Second period: 4. G-PR, Hills 14 (Charlie Thompson), 1:02 (pp). 5. G-PR, Rehovsky 12 (Zach Feltman, Hills), 3:50 (sh). 6. G-PR, Brett Longtin 5 (Ryan Woinarowicz), 8:38. 7. C, Alec Rauhauser 29 (Nash Anderson), 15:35.
Third period: 8. G-PR, Miller 26 (Johnny Robideaux), 11:25. 9. G-PR, Robideaux 6 (Miller), 15:26 (en). 10. C, Jeff Gendreau 3 (Hruby), 16:57.
Goalie saves: G-PR — Zach Nelson 7-5-14—26. C — Jack Abfalter 4—9-7—20.
Penalties: G-PR 5 minors. C 3 minors.
Records: G-PR 15-11; C 19-7.
Grand Forks Red River 2, Fargo Davies 0
Mr. Hockey finalist Jon Lizotte scored one goal and assisted on the other as Grand Forks Red River advanced to the finals with a 2-0 win over Fargo Davies in a battle between the East Region regular-season and tournament champions.
Andy Norman scored the other goal for Red River. Aaron Sauve made 20 saves for the shutout. Davies, in its third season, was bidding for its first champion game appearance.
Fargo Davies 0 0 0 — 0
Red River 2 0 0 — 2
First period: 1. RR, Andy Norman 10 (Jon Lizotte), 3:09. 2. RR, Lizotte 13 (Jacob Benson, Branden Lunski), 12:38 (pp).
Second period: No scoring.
Third period: No scoring.
Goalie saves: FD — Tucker Windels 8-19-9—36. RR — Aaron Sauve 7-8-5—20.
Penalties: FD 4 minors. RR 3 minors.
Records: FD 20-6; RR 20-6.