Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SECTION 8A HOCKEY: Prowlers oust Wave Warroad, Thief River Falls to meet for section championship Junior Micah Ranum isn’t the leading goal scorer for Thief River Falls High School by accident .. Courtesy Of Grand Forks Herald

By: Virg Foss, Special to the Herald, Grand Forks Herald

Junior Micah Ranum isn’t the leading goal scorer for Thief River Falls High School by accident.

Three minutes after he was stoned by East Grand Forks goalie Hunter Aubol on Monday night on his deke on a breakaway, Ranum made the play of the game.

He stole a clearing pass in the Green Wave defensive zone, zipped in on Aubol and slipped a backhander just past his outstretched right leg to snap a 1-1 tie with 32 seconds left in the second period.

Ranum’s 24th goal of the season was the difference as Thief River Falls (19-7-1) shaded East Grand Forks 2-1 in the Minnesota Section 8A boys hockey semifinals at the EGF Civic Center.

The victory puts the second-seeded Prowlers into Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship game at the Civic Center against three-time defending section champion and top seed Warroad (23-4), which split a pair of 2-1 decisions with the Prowlers during the regular season.

“I was lucky enough to get a turnover,” Ranum said. “The defense made a little mistake there. I capitalized on that. That’s a heartbreaker for the other team.”

In a game that included some controversy, Ranum’s goal was ultimately the difference.

Senior High thought it had taken a 1-0 lead 6:57 into the first period when Zach Lawdermilt slid the puck past Prowler goalie Zane Gothberg.

Officials quickly waved off the goal, though. Gothberg’s helmet came off just before Lawdermilt shot the puck in, and rules call for an automatic stoppage of play when a goalie loses his helmet.

The Green Wave then thought they had taken a 1-0 lead into the first-period break. Gothberg slid down and out of position at 10:39 of the first period, giving EGF’s Jake Useldinger an open net for his power play goal to open the scoring.

As time expired to end the period, Thief River Falls’ Matt Audette knocked in a rebound on a wild goal-mouth scramble. The officials gathered and ruled that the puck was in before time expired, tying the game at 1-1.

Aubol (35 saves) was brilliant in stopping 20 Prowler shots in the second period when Thief River Falls pressed the play, outshooting the Green Wave 21-4. But the quick turnover by his defense set up Ranum’s backhander just inside the right post.

“I wanted that so bad,” Ranum said of his goal. “It was just bad after I missed that breakaway there. Their goalie played a wonderful game. He kept them in it.”

Ranum’s view of Audette’s goal to end the first period? “I saw the one that saved our lives this game,” he said.

Ranum and Prowler coach Tim Bergland thought Brady Meunier scored the goal, but it was officially credited to Audette.

“As soon as it went in, I looked right at the ref,” Bergland said. “He was standing right on the goal line, right next to the goal. He obviously had a good view of it. He’s pointing goal, so I thought it was in. But then they (officials) started talking, and you begin to wonder.”

There is no video review available in high school hockey until the state tournament, so the debate may linger. “If it went in, that’s great. If it didn’t go in (before the period ended), you don’t want to win games that way. We’re fortunate it was ruled a goal.”

EGF coach Cory Chupka didn’t make an issue out of it.

“You don’t have the instant replay, so things that are generated at the goal at the buzzer, there’s a lot of commotion. They went off their judgment. When it comes down to that, you’re not too happy, but we had to accept it and we had to go on. There are a lot of things in hockey you can’t take back.”

The Prowlers outshot the Green Wave 37-18 with Gothberg, a UND recruit, finishing with 17 saves.

Almost half of them (8) came in the last period when the Green Wave pressed for a tying goal.

The Green Wave had a chance to take the lead nine minutes into the second period on Casey Ristau’s clean breakaway. Gothberg came out to cut the angle and Ristau shot high and wide.

Chupka was proud of the performance of the Green Wave, who finish at 12-14-1. “We left everything on the ice,” he said. “We showed we could play at this level. We had a lot of chances. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Key play: Micah Ranum’s steal and unassisted goal for 2-1 TRF lead with 32 seconds left in second period.

Key players: Ranum; EGF goalie Hunter Aubol (35 saves).

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