by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls avenged a pair of regular season losses to East Grand Forks when it counted most, as the Prowlers defeated the Green Wave 4-0 Thursday, March 1 to claim the Section 8A title.
Thief River Falls lost 4-1 in its first meeting with East Grand Forks on Jan. 23 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, and again by a score of 5-2 on Feb. 13 in East Grand Forks.
Thief River Falls Head Coach Tim Bergland said the game plan in the section championship game was similar to the two regular season meetings, just with better execution from the Prowlers.
“We see each other enough over the years, but our execution wasn’t as good,” Bergland said. “We couldn’t get much going offensively either game.”
Much like the Jan. 23 game, Thief River Falls struck first. This time, it was Parker Lane, who netted the game’s first goal on a power play with assists from Kaleb Flaagan and Keaden Kempert with 4:23 left in the first period.
“This game, a section final game, getting the first goal was nice, but we did that the first time as well,” Bergland said. “Getting out of the first period with a lead was key.”
Thief River Falls was able keep East Grand Forks from answering as it killed a Green Wave power play for the final 1:53 of the first period and first seven seconds of the second period.
Thief River Falls added to its lead early in the second period, as Brady Anderson scored the first of his three goals on a pass from Aaron Myers at the 1:20 mark.
The Prowlers successfully killed two more Green Wave power plays, following a Gunnar Fellman hooking penalty at the 5:49 mark, and a Parker Lane tripping penalty at the 14:25 mark.
“Our penality killing was key as well,” Bergland said. “They had four or five power plays. Especially in the second period, there were two or three big saves that Nick [Corneliusen] made.”
Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, East Grand Forks picked up its pace.
“The old phrase in hockey is a two goal lead is the worst lead,” Bergland said. “They get one goal, they get the momentum. We did a nice job weathering the storm the first five or six minutes of the third period.”
A Justin Kallock interference penalty with 7:29 left to play put Thief River Falls back on the power play. The Prowlers took advantage of the extra man as Anderson scored with 6:13 left to play to make it 3-0.
Anderson scored again less than two minutes later to complete the hat trick and simultaneously put the game out of reach.
Corneliusen saved all 33 shots on goal to pick up the shutout.
“Nick played very well. The guys feed off that,” Bergland said.
Thief River Falls 4,
East Grand Forks 0
First period – TRF, Parker Lane (PP) (Kaleb Flaagan, Keaden Kempert) 12:37.
Second period – TRF, Brady Anderson (Aaron Myers) 1:20.
Third period – TRF, Brady Anderson (PP) (Tucker Skime, Aaron Myers) 10:47; TRF, Brady Anderson 12:37.
Shots – TRF 5-5-7 – 17; EGF 8-13-12 – 33.
Power plays – TRF 2/4; EGF 0/5.
Penalties – TRF 6 (12 minutes); EGF 4 (8 minutes).
Goalies – TRF, Nick Corneliusen 33 saves; EGF, Carter Krier 13 saves.