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Fargo South earns shutout to get spot in ND state girls hockey final

GRAND FORKS - Fargo South's season ended in the semifinals the previous three years. The No. 1-seeded Bruins avoided a fourth straight semifinals exit with a 3-0 win over fourth-seeded West Fargo on Friday during the North Dakota state girls hock...

Fargo South goalie Katie Buchholz
Fargo South goalie Katie Buchholz keeps her eye on a rebound off her stick in the second period Friday in Grand Forks. John Stennes / Forum Communications Co.

GRAND FORKS - Fargo South's season ended in the semifinals the previous three years.

The No. 1-seeded Bruins avoided a fourth straight semifinals exit with a 3-0 win over fourth-seeded West Fargo on Friday during the North Dakota state girls hockey tournament at Purpur Arena.

South advances to play Grand Forks in the state championship game at 11 a.m. today at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Bruins senior goaltender Katie Buchholz had 25 saves for the shutout, avenging the three previous times she and South missed a spot in the title game.

"This is the first time ever in my five years of high school hockey to be in this position winning the second game finally," Buchholz said. "It's just a great feeling."

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South (25-0-0) leaned on Buchholz the whole game. Her five saves off four quality scoring chances by the Packers in the first period kept the Bruins from entering the locker room with a deficit.

"(Katie) stood on her head today," South head coach Josh Rogers said. "She's capable of having a game like that. Did we know it was coming today? No, but what a great time for it to show up."

After a scoreless first, South's Sadie Hayes slapped a shot off a rebound past West Fargo goalie Andrea Klug 19 seconds into the second period.

Klug kept South's potent offense from getting comfortable the first two periods, including North Dakota goal scoring leader Lindsay Nagel. Nagel's two quality scoring chances were smothered by Klug.

At the 9:30 mark of the third period, South's Kara Tupa finally spoiled Klug's groove with an unassisted goal.

"We told the girls to work hard because that next goal was going to be the one," Rogers said. "Everyone in the rink knew it ... Whoever got that next goal was going to set the tone and put themselves in a good spot."

Forty seconds after Tupa's goal, Hayes added another goal, sealing South's first trip to the state final since 2003 when it defeated Bismarck 4-0 for the program's only state championship.

South was penalized nine times, giving the Packers plenty of chances on the power play.

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"We know that their power play is pretty deadly," Hayes said. "We played it one shift at a time, one second at a time, making sure that we could keep our feet under us and do our best to eliminate shots."

The Packers scored three power-play goals against Minot in the quarterfinals, but couldn't cash in on Friday.

"We had our chances to score. We just couldn't hit the net," West Fargo coach Pat Johnson said. "If you don't put your chances away, eventually they're going to. We didn't convert pure and simple."

West Fargo outshot the Bruins 25-22 and held the edge in quality scoring chances 8-5.

Buchholz' savvy in net added to the frustration.

"West Fargo missed a couple of golden opportunities, but Katie was in position for all of them," Rogers said. "She was able to make the saves she had to make. The shutout speaks for itself."

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, FS, Sa. Hayes, (Stellrecht), :19.

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THIRD PERIOD: 2, FS, K. Tupa, 9:30. 3, FS, Sa. Hayes, (L. Tupa), 10:10.

SAVES: FS, Buchholz 8-10-7-25. WF, Klug, 5-7-7-19.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 451-5651

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