GRAND FORKS - The strange day for the Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team still ended in a win Tuesday night at Purpur Arena.
On the day the Roughriders learned head coach Bill Chase had been placed on indefinite administrative leave, the Riders didn’t show many signs of distraction against West Fargo.
No. 4 Red River used goals from Brendan Mullen, Maxx Andrade and Tyler Savage as interim head coach John Dvorak picked up his first head coaching win in a 3-0 victory over No. 5 West Fargo in the East Region tournament quarterfinals.
“I told them we’re all in this together,” Dvorak said of his message to the Riders. “I told them this is a first for me, a first for you and you need to work for the guy next to you. Everyone is coming in with a clean slate, the past is the past and if we want to do something special it all starts (Tuesday night).”
Red River (13-8 overall) beat West Fargo (8-14) for the third time this season. The Riders advance to Friday’s region semifinal at 6 p.m. against the winner of Grand Forks Central and Grafton-Park River.
The loser of the Knights-Spoilers plays West Fargo in a loser-out game at Purpur at noon Friday.
“The guys talked throughout the day, and we controlled what we can control,” Red River goalie Nate Bradbury said. “If they make a decision like that, we have to trust they know what they’re doing. We come here and as a group do what we can do.”
Red River led 1-0 after one period and 2-0 after the second. Mullen, a sophomore, scored his second goal of the year, while Andrade, a senior, scored his 12th of the season.
“I thought we came out a little flat, but I think once we settled nerves, we started winning small battles,” Dvorak said. “Hats off to West Fargo. We had to earn everything we got tonight.”
Red River really put the game away in the third when Savage scored on an individual effort.
Skating shorthanded during a major penalty, Savage forced a deep turnover and deked West Fargo goalie Gabe Peterson.
Savage’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season gave the Riders a 3-0 cushion at 11:18 of the final period.
“He’s just dynamic,” Dvorak said. “He’s so energetic and creates opportunity.”
Red River outshot West Fargo 31-19.
“I thought we played better than we did last time we played them,” West Fargo co-head coach Tim Capouch said. “I thought it was a pretty even game.”