No. 2-A East Grand Forks at No. 3-A Warroad
4:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1
At The Gardens Arena, Warroad
The immovable object versus the unstoppable force? If ever there was a high school hockey game for which that cliché was created, it’s this one.
East Grand Forks has the deepest and most smothering defense in the state, allowing only 1.32 goals per game. But it’s not just the lack of goals that stands out about his team -- the Green Wave barely allow any shots. Only three teams all season have had as many as 20 shots on goal in a game and they average 14.3 shots against per game. Yes, per game.
Junior Josh Weber (12-1-1, 1.37, .914) has emerged as the go-to goaltender, starting the last seven games. He’s supported by a veteran defensive corps that includes Colton Poolman (3-8-11), Eddie Eades (3-6-9), Taylor Brierley (2-6-8) and Tye Ausmus (2-2-4), an impressive mix of size, strength, speed and skill. Combine that unit with forwards who are responsible in their own zone, and coach Tyler Palmiscno has a team that should contend for a state championship.
So who can break through that immovable object of a defense?
Try the unstoppable force that is Warroad’s top line.
As a team, the Warriors are averaged 6.15 goals per game, but the line of juniors Kobe Roth (36-39-75) and Jared Bethune (29-45-74) and senior Kyle Sylvester (28-43-71) has scored an amazing 74.8 percent of that total (93 of 123). Try as they might, no opponent since before the holidays has slowed down that unit. The Warriors are 11-0-0 in their past 11 games.
We’re cheating a bit in that we already had a preview of this game. Back on Dec. 20 at the East Grand Forks Civic Center, the two teams played to a 2-2 stalemate, Warroad’s last non-victory. The Green Wave limited Warroad to only 16 shots, but the Warriors’ top line scored both goals.
The rematch Saturday night could settle the issue — for now. It appears almost inevitable they’ll meet again in the Section 8A playoffs.