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Grand Forks Central hockey shuts out Bismarck Legacy in state quarterfinal

Feb. 22—FARGO — Mack Blue and Evan Panzer have built chemistry playing on the top line together for Grand Forks Central hockey this season.

Central's top line scored four times in the Knights' 7-0 shutout of Bismarck Legacy in the state quarterfinal Thursday at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

"We just know where to find each other," Blue said.

Panzer and Wyatt Blake had assists on Blue's backhand goal early in the second period. Both Panzer and Blue tallied assists on top-line winger Cooper Deziel's goal in the second, a tap-in behind Legacy goaltender Tyler Miller.

And Blue found Panzer for the final goal of the game.

"We're working below the dots real well," Panzer said, "and moving it around and finding open spaces and putting them in the net."

Despite the strong finish, Legacy was the team that started off with the upper hand.

Knights goaltender Jaxon Washburn stopped the quality chances Legacy had to open the game. Then, the East's No. 1 seeded Central locked in against the Sabers, a team it hadn't faced yet this season.

Trey Clauson scored with 28 seconds left in the first. It ignited Central's offense, which put up three goals in the second and third periods.

"There was just no let up in our guys tonight," Panzer said. "Just staying on it all game, kept putting up goals."

Brady Kirkeby scored the first goals of the second and third periods, and Panzer found the net for Central's final two scores.

They were two of six Knights players who finished with at least two points. Panzer led Central with four points (two goals, two assists) and Blue added three (one goal, two assists). Kirkeby tallied two points. Chay Quamme, Gavin Wockenfuss and Markus Lunski each had two assists.

"We got contributions from everyone," Central coach Grant Paranica said. "We had good games out of all of our guys all around the lineup. They contributed on the score sheet and they played the other areas of the game very well, too."

Central had 19 quality scoring chances in the win. Legacy had 11.

Washburn had 19 saves. Legacy goalie Miller had 34. Central outshot Legacy 41-19.

Central, which picked up its 21st win of the season, will play Minot in Friday's second semifinal. The Knights will look to build on Thursday's win and earn a spot in the state title game, somewhere they haven't been since 2021.

"Tomorrow's a new day," Paranica said. "This one's in the past. It's a three game weekend. It's like we played the first period. We have to just get fired back up, get some good rest tonight so that we don't have any lingering effects from game to game, and we'll see what happens tomorrow."