A crazy thought went through Nick Stoskopf’s head while he was zooming in on a shorthanded breakaway during the third period of his Great Plains team’s 7-1 triumph over Norway.
Stoskopf, a senior from Warroad (pictured), briefly considered doing something fancy. Maybe one of those wacky, put-the-stick-between-your-legs-and-shoot moves.
“But the scouts would probably cross me off every list they have,” said Stoskopf, who instead went with the more conventional snap shot aimed for the upper corner.
“I saw the top corner was open, but that didn’t quite work out,” said Stoskopf, who scored 17 goals and added 22 assists while playing on Warroad’s top line last season. “I didn’t quite get her high enough.”
Stoskopf didn’t score on the breakaway but he did have a goal in the victory, giving him two goals and two assists in four Elite League games.
“It’s quite the experience,” Stoskopf said. “I watched (Warriors linemates from last season) Brock Nelson and Brett Hebel do it last year, and they came back for the season really in shape. They said it’s a great experience and it has been all of that so far.”
The heavy hitting Stoskopf (he stands 6-feet tall and weighs 191 pounds) classifies himself as a power forward, “but I like to claim that I have a couple of skills here and there.”
He will need all of his skills if Warroad, which placed third at the Class A state tournament last season, is going to have yet another successful season. Losing Nelson and Hebel also means the Warriors lost the bulk of their scoring.
“We’re all just going to have to step up our game and take care of Brock’s scoring,” Stoskopf said. “He had almost triple digits in points, so we’re going to have to have a few guys add up to that.”
1. Luke Johnson, Great Plains
Just a sophomore, the forward from Grand Forks Cenral (pictured) scored twice and added two assists as he used his quickness to routinely elude Norway’s defensemen. Johnson, despite his youth, might very well be North Dakota’s top scorer during the upcoming high school season.
2. Nick Stoskopf, Great Plains
Unlike the bulk of Great Plains’ waterbug forwards, the senior from Warroad plays a power game (Stoskopf never backs away from contact) but can put the puck in the net, too. Stoskopf scored a goal and almost made it two when he broke free for a shorthanded breakaway in the third period but failed to score on a rising glove-side shot.
3. Gage Ausmus, Great Plains
Making his first Elite League start, the East Grand Forks defenseman is a sophomore who played more like a senior. He was steady in the defensive zone and picked his spots well in the Norway end, where he scored a goal.
Several regulars were out of the lineup for Great Plains, which has a large roster and regularly rotates players in and out. Included among the scratches was Roseau senior Shane Omdahl, who watched the game in street clothes. His absence led to some serious shakeups in the forward combinations.
Eric Brenk-Nick Stoskopf-Alan Zahui
Comment: Stoskopf, a Warroad senior, scored on an assist from Moorhead’s Brenk but otherwise this unit was held off the scoresheet despite generating numerous quality scoring chances.
Ryan Callahan-Josh Erickson-Casey Fugleberg
Comment: Callahan, an alternate from Grafton, N.D., was called into the starting lineup and his assist was this line’s only point. Erickson, a junior from Roseau who isn’t particularly big (5-foot-8 1/4, 150 pounds) hit anything that moved and crashed the net with abandon.
John Simonson-Luke Johnson-Jordan Aamot
Comment: Johnson scored twice and Simonson also notched a goal for this all-Grand Forks Central line that was Great Plains’ best in terms of consistent pressure and stats (seven combined points).
Chris Forney-Bryant Christian-Conor Jonasson
Comment: Not a bad game for this unit, as Moorhead’s Christian and West Fargo’s Jonasson each notched a goal.
Luke Johnson of Grand Forks Central had two goals and two assists and goaltender Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River stopped 11 of 12 shots to lead Great Plains past Norway 7-1 on Saturday, Sept. 18, at MARS Lakeview Arena in Duluth.
Gage Ausmus, a sophomore defenseman from East Grand Forks making his Elite League debut, scored a goal for Great Plains as did Warroad senior Nick Stoskopf. Bryant Christian of Moorhead added a goal and an assist.
Carson Gray, a defenseman from Warroad, had two assists for Great Plains, which led 1-0 after the first period then broke the game open with four unanswered goals in the second.
Great Plains (2-2) fired 48 shots at Norway goaltender Espen Johansen.
The loss kep Norway winless in four games.