Grafton ousts Bismarck Century
Championship game on the line
Just 45 seconds had ticked off the first period clock when the Spoilers scored on the very first shot of the state semi-final game.
Zach Peterson’s wrister from the mid slot sailed neatly over the glove hand of Patriot goalie Jack Abfalter and Grafton Park River was up 1-0. It took another ten minutes before the Spoilers had another shot on net and while they were away, the Patriots did their best to derail a Spoiler three-peat in the state hockey championship game.
A Brad Kelly goal tied it at 1-1 when the Patriot speedster stole a puck inside the Spoiler zone and dashed it high over Spoiler goalie Zach Nelson’s shoulder. The Patriots would go up 2-1 later in the period when again a mistake deep in their own zone cost the Spoilers. This time it was Zach Hruby walking in alone and scoring the go ahead goal. The Spoilers totaled just four shots on net as the first period ended.
The tide turned in the second. The Spoilers found the speed and execution they’d been missing and went on a rampage. Peter Hills started the comeback when he scored the tying goal on a Spoiler power play. The Spoilers were patient on the play when Hills took a pass in the slot and fired one that made it just under the crossbar at the 1:02 mark of the period.
Zach Feltman then set up Cole Rehovsky for the go-ahead goal two minutes later when the defenseman stole a breakout pass at the Century blue line and fed Rehovsky who slipped in front of Abfalter and put it between his pads for the 3-2 lead. Brett Longtin then had the prettiest goal of the game when he took a pass from Ryan Wonarowicz and exploded down the right side past the Patriot defense and fired a laser over the shoulder of Abfalter to make it 4-2. The Spoilers were sharpshooters in that period scoring on three of nine shots on net. A late Patriot goal by Alex Rauhauser made it 4-3 Spoilers after two.
There would be no let down for GPR in the third. After killing an early penalty with big saves from Nelson, the Spoilers would get the goal that would seal this one. Jade Miller broke in alone but was ridden off the play. Miller hung with it however and sent the puck out front from behind the net where it deflected in off the back of Abfalter. From there the Spoilers special teams did their job. Killing two more penalties, Grafton-Park River played solid the entire period.
Nelson again kept the Spoilers in it with big saves.
“It was a very intense and nerve -racking game,” Nelson said. “But we did it and now are headed back to the state championship game and that’s a big accomplishment for this team.”
An empty net goal by John Robideaux made it 6-3 before a last second Patriot goal finished all scoring.
The Spoilers saw scoring from six different players in this game while goalie Zach Nelson making 26 saves, fourteen of which came in a frantic third period.