Central snags Gambucci Cup with OT win over East Grand Forks

Jan. 23—GRAND FORKS — The Gambucci Cup is back at Grand Forks Central.

Sophomore Cooper Deziel scored in overtime to beat East Grand Forks 4-3 on Tuesday night at Purpur Arena, securing the Cup at Central for the first time in three years.

The Cup, which goes to the top boys hockey team in Greater Grand Forks annually, has been held by Grand Forks Red River the past two seasons.

The Cup comes with prestige in the 2023-24 season as the two Grand Forks schools sit atop the North Dakota standings, while the Green Wave have been a Class A Top 5 team in Minnesota most of the year.

"It's been good hockey," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "It's great for us to have that competition and for our kids to see they can play with kids of that quality."

East Grand Forks started fast against the Knights, jumping to leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period. Brock Schultz scored just 32 seconds into the game for the Green Wave, who then led 2-1 after Central's Finn Lockwood and EGF's Cooper Hills traded first-period goals.

Despite the Wave dictating play much of the first half of the second period, the Knights emerged from the second with the lead thanks to a Chay Quamme power-play goal. Quamme scored with 5 seconds left on an otherwise unproductive power play for the Knights.

Paranica felt the game turned with the next Central goal. Central scored short-handed at 10:24 of the second when Evan Panzer used a late centering feed during a 2-on-1 rush to Mack Blue, and the great-grandson of Serge Gambucci — the Cup's namesake — gave the Knights a 3-2 lead.

"I thought we got better as the game went on," Paranica said. "We adjusted after the first period. Evan's great play short-handed got us going and really energized our bench. That was a turning point."

The Green Wave, though, sent the game to overtime thanks to an individual effort by Schultz, who scored his second of the game by stealing a puck from a Central defender deep in the Knights' zone and firing a shot in to tie the game at 3-3 at 11:47 of the third period.

At 2:49 of overtime, Panzer collected his third assist of the game by hitting the trailing Deziel, who scored clean from the slot.

"Evan was rushing on the side of the wall, and I figured I'd go high and hope for the best on the shot," Deziel said. "(The Cup) means everything to us. We're pushing ourselves every day to achieve more milestones, and this is one of them."

For the Green Wave, the loss snaps East Grand Forks' six-game unbeaten streak.

"I thought they played fast and hard, and there were lots of ebbs and flows in the game," said EGF assistant Coltyn Sanderson, who was filling in for an ill Tyler Palmiscno. "At times, they outpaced us. At times, we outpaced them.

"In the first, I thought it was pretty equal. I liked the first five minutes in the second, and then we took some penalties. Two to nothing in special teams in the second period hurt us, but I liked how our group battled back and hung around for the rest of the period and reset coming into the third."