After a shaky postseason opener, Red River returns to dominant form in 7-1 win over Fargo South-Shanley

Feb. 16—GRAND FORKS — Top-seeded Grand Forks Red River opened the postseason earlier this week with a clunker for its lofty standards, struggling to put away No. 8 Devils Lake to open the East Region tournament.

By the end of the first period of the region semifinals, any quarterfinal struggle was a distant memory.

The Roughriders righted the ship with four first-period goals en route to a 7-1 win over Fargo South-Shanley on Friday night at Purpur Arena.

"Our locker room mentality was that we needed to turn it on," Red River junior Ryan Wasvick said. "I think we did that, but we have more to prove."

Red River advances to the region championship game at Purpur against Grand Forks Central at approximately 5 p.m. The Bruins play a state qualifer against West Fargo Sheyenne at noon.

"It was a rough game," Red River junior Rylan Bydal said of the Riders' 5-3 win over Devils Lake on Tuesday. "Everyone has their ups and downs. We knew we could pick it up from there. Everyone was going (against South-Shanley). We didn't have any passengers. Everyone was going their hardest."

Bydal and Wasvick each scored two first-period goals.

"Guys realized you can't screw around anymore, and we have to play with more urgency," Red River coach Tim Skarperud said of his first two region tournament games. "I felt the way we practiced the last couple of days, I felt (the Devils Lake game) was a good thing for us. I could tell our guys were into it right away (against South-Shanley)."

Bydal started the scoring by going to his backhand as the Red River top line all had a hand in the play with assists to Tyson Ulmer and Grant Gardner.

Red River's second line scored three goals with Wasvick scoring the early two and Griffen Haagenson making it 5-0 within the first four minutes of the second period.

"We've talked about our first line a lot this year but give that second line credit," Skarperud said. "They made some good, hard plays and got around the net. If that line can keep doing that, it's going to be huge for us."

The Riders would put the game on running time in the third period after the first career varsity goal for senior fourth-line forward Mason Kvasager.

"It was great to see Mason score," Skarperud said. "You have to give (Kvasager and line mate Rylan Bures) credit. Great kids and zero drama with those seniors on the fourth line."

The third period was perhaps most important for Red River to rest its top two lines. The Riders' top line sat out the entire final 12 minutes, while the second line sat out the final eight minutes.

South-Shanley's lone goal came with 12 seconds left in the second period when Landon Hale tucked in a shot over Red River goalie Tucker Hager, who finished with 15 saves.

Bruins goalies Landon Walter and Jack Furstenau combined to make 31 saves.