East Grand Forks' Colton Poolman (6) and Nick Korynta (7) try to shield a Thief River Falls forward from the puck. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen
A late shot from East Grand Forks' Zack Lawdermilt (8) sails up and over goaltender Jon Narverud (31).
It’s generally defined as unusual bounces and deflections that repeatedly go in favor of one team against the odds of randomness. With it, a team can feel invincible – and often is.
Fourth-ranked Thief River Falls (18-4-2) collected its share of puck luck in a 3-1 victory at No. 8A East Grand Forks (15-9-0) Tuesday night. The Prowlers’ three goals certainly each had an element of it. But to say the Prowlers’ puck luck didn’t have some basis in skill is incorrect. They made it happen with hard work and skill.
“Maybe not the good scoring chances went in,” chuckled Thief River Falls coach Tim Bergland, whose team did have numerous chances that were saved by East Grand Forks’ goaltender Hunter Aubol, who finished with 22 saves. “It was the ones with freaky bounces or going to the net type things. That just says put the puck on net, do the simple things, and you’ll get rewarded.”
Thief River Falls did just that. First, they got the puck on net.
After East Grand Forks took a 1-0 lead on Nick Korynta’s goal early in the first period, the Prowlers tied it with just 24.8 seconds left in the opening frame. Tanner Nessen gathered a loose puck along the boards and whirled a no-look shot toward the net. It somehow caught the Green Wave off guard and slipped into the far corner.
Then they got the deflection.
In the second period, the Prowlers’ Logen Ose was credited with the game-winning goal – without actually shooting the puck into the net. Ose’s centering pass from the corner was deflected high into the air, where a Green Wave defenseman attempted to bat it down. Instead, it richocheted off his glove and into his own net.
Evan Ose gave Thief River Falls its final goal with a baseball swing off a rebound of Riley Soderstrom’s shot.
“It was a tight hockey game. There wasn’t a lot of space on either side,” said East Grand Forks co-head coach Tyler Palmiscno, crediting the Prowlers with making their own luck. “You had to earn everything you got.”
Not only did the puck luck earn the Prowlers the regular season sweep of the Green Wave, it also wrapped up the top seed in the upcoming Section 8A playoffs. The two teams were unbeaten in the section – except for a 5-1 Thief River Falls victory back on Jan. 24.
“We get moving when we’re under a lot of pressure,” said Prowlers’ senior goaltender Jon Narverud, who anchored Thief River Falls' state tournament run last winter and made 22 saves Tuesday night. “We loved it, and all we want to do is go back.”
First, the Prowlers would likely have to beat either East Grand Forks or Warroad for the third time this season. With Thief River Falls as the top seed, the Green Wave and Warroad will likely be the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.
“I feel good, but I’m not going to take it for granted. Just because we won (tonight), doesn’t mean we’re definitely going to win (the section tournament),” said Narverud. “We’re going to play them as hard as we can every single time.”
“It’s high school hockey it’s one and done so we have to be ready to go,” Bergland said.
Jon Narverud (31) was strong in goal for Thief River Falls, making 22 saves, including this stop on Tommy Hajicek (17) of East Grand Forks.
State of the Green Wave
Tuesday’s loss was just the second in Section 8A regular season play for No. 8A East Grand Forks (15-9-0), but both came to Thief River Falls in the past three weeks. To reach their goal of the state tournament, the Green Wave will likely have to beat both Warroad and Thief River Falls in section play. But Green Wave co-head coach Tyler Palmiscno thinks his team is headed in the right direction.
“We played (the Prowlers) 2-1/2 weeks ago and beat us 5-1. They gave us a good butt-kicking and we wanted to avenge that,” Palmiscno said. “I liked the way we played.”
East Grand Forks led 1-0 in the first period – then battered Prowlers’ goaltender Jon Narverud over the final 2 minutes, 28 seconds trying to get the tying goals. While they had lulls during, their offensive chances came in a fashing matching their name – in waves.
“Our goal all year is to play our best hockey at the end of February/early March. And I think we’re doing that,” Palmiscno said.
Fourth-ranked Thief River Falls completed a regular season sweep of its Section 8A schedule, beating No. 8A East Grand Forks, 3-1 on Valentine's Day night at the East Grand Forks Civic Center. The Prowlers (18-4-2) -- the defending section champion -- earned the top seed in the upcoming playoffs after twice beating the Green Wave (15-9-0) and likely No. 3 seed Warroad.
Senior goaltender Jon Narverud made 22 saves, including several sprawling stops in the final 2 minutes, 28 seconds as the Prowlers clung to a two-goal lead. East Grand Forks pulled goalie Hunter Aubol for an extra attacker and peppered the Prowlers' net with a half-dozen quality chances, but couldn't solve Narverud.
The Green Wave got on the board first, as Nick Korynta corralled a bouncing puck in the slot and ripped a shot past Narverud just over four minutes into the game. Thief River Falls controlled play in the latter stages of the first, but Aubol stymied each until Tanner Nessen tied it with just 24.8 seconds left. After Aubol turned aside several chances during a flurry, Nessen picked up the puck along the boards, twirled and caught the Green Wave by surprise, hitting the far corner to tie it at 1-1.
A pair of bouncing "puck luck" goals in the second gave the Prowlers the lead for good. First, Logen Ose was credited with a goal when his deflected pass from the corner richocheted off a Green Wave defenseman and into the net. Then Evan Ose swiped a thigh-high rebound out of the air and past Aubol to make it 3-1.
Aubol finished with 20 saves for the Green Wave.
The Section 8A seeding will be released Wednesday.
1. Jon Narverud, Thief River Falls
Narverud wasn't called on often through the first two periods, but he made his case for No. 1 star over the final 2 minutes, 28 seconds. The veteran senior goaltender made 22 saves, including a half dozen while East Grand Forks had pulled its goalie for an extra attacker. He swiped a bouncing puck out of mid-air on a Nick Korynta shot, then robbed Zack Lawdermilt twice as the Prowlers were clinging to a two-goal lead.
2. Riley Soderstrom, Thief River Falls
Soderstrom assisted on the Prowlers' third goal of the game, taking the shot that Evan Ose knocked out of the air for a goal. But his presence was felt all game long in the offensive zone. Soderstrom's speed and puck control helped the Prowlers dominate puck possession over much of the first two periods.
3. Zack Lawdermilt, East Grand Forks
Lawdermilt was held off the scoreboard by the Prowlers' defense and goalie Jon Narverud, but his speed was a key ingredient in the Green Wave's game plan. Many of East Grand Forks' offensive chances came by letting Lawdermilt go wide on the Prowlers' defensemen and making them commit. Only terrific goaltending by Narverud kept Lawdermilt off the board.