Give Kyler Briske credit for one thing. When Grand Forks Central needed a goal, Briske didn't wait around.
Briske, a junior forward, scored the game-winning goal as Central edged Bismarck 3-2 in inter-regional boys hockey action on Friday afternoon.
Briske's goal followed by less than two minutes a game-tying tally by Bismarck's Dain Sardelli. Sardelli scored on a power play to make it 2-2 with 15:24 to play. Briske countered with his first goal of the day and sixth of the season with 13:40 on the clock.
It appeared that BHS goalie Quinn Ackerman had a line on Briske's wrist shot from the left circle, but the puck went off the goaltender's pads and into the net.
"I think it trickled through, but I'll take them any way," Briske said.
Central led most of the way after Parker Stroh tallied the only goal of the first period. Stroh scored on a high shot from the inside edge of the right circle with 4:49 elapsed.
Zack Murphy put Central ahead 2-0 with a power-play goal at 6:34 of the second period. Murphy, stationed at the left post, took a pass from Cole Hanson and stuffed it past Ackerman.
Bismarck broke through with 3:06 remaining in the middle session, Caleb Petrie converting on the power play just 11 seconds after Central's Tucker Hodgson was whistled for interference.
When Sardelli scored from the top of the right circle with 1:36 gone in the third period to balance the books at 2-2, it was anybody's game. That's when Briske stepped forward.
Given the lead, Central goalie Kaleb Johnson stopped all seven shots sent his way to close out the win.
Friday's victory was Grand Forks' second one-goal victory in the two-day series in Bismarck. Central edged Century 6-5 on Thursday.
Grand Forks Red River blanked Century 6-0 in Friday's first game.
Briske said winning tight games is important for a team's confidence.
"It's an excellent thing for a team. ... When it gets close, everybody has to go out there and fight for each other. We always can count on each other," he said. "I'm disappointed with the way we played, but we found a way to win."
Central coach Grant Paranica said teams have to learn to play in tight games.
"I think (one-goal games) are a good thing. They should bring out the best in players," he observed. "That's a really good thing."
Bismarck, which came into the week 7-0, lost its first two games of the season. The Demons fell victim to Red River 4-2 Thursday night.
Still, coach Mike Peluso said BHS is a better team after playing Red River and Central.
"We're way better. Playing one- or two-goal games against good hockey teams is good for your team. Compete-and-battle games will help us out later in the season," Peluso said.
Peluso said he is optimistic about what's ahead once he gets his entire team put together.
"We haven't had a full lineup yet this year. We dressed 17 kids the last two games. ... But I really like where we're headed," he said.
Bismarck returns to action on Tuesday, playing host to Dickinson in a 7:15 West Region game. Century is idle until next Friday when the Patriots and Demons tangle for the first time this season at the VFW Sports Center.
G.F. Red River 6, Century 0
Red River wore two different faces in Friday's game with Century.
The Roughriders' first identity was the team that skated to a scoreless standoff with the Patriots in the first period, getting outshot 8-4.
Identity No. 2 was the Red River team that thumped Century 6-0 through the second and third periods.
Red River coach Bill Chase said the main adjustment by the Roughriders after the first period was in attitude.
"We needed to refocus. I think our pride kicked in," Chase said.
It didn't take Red River long to assert itself in the second period. Senior forward Mason Salquist embarked on the road to a hat trick by scoring on a blast from just inside the blue line just eight seconds into period two.
Landon Haagenson and Salquist added power-play goals and Red River led 3-0 at the second break after outshooting Century 18-6. Haagenson's tally was a strange one. He sent a bad-angle shot at the cage from the bottom of the right circle and found the net.
The Roughriders removed all doubt about the outcome with two goals in the first four minutes of the third period.
Dane Montgomery, camped at the right post, took Salquist's pass from the right wing boards and scored at 3:02 of the third period. Less than a minute later, Salquist finished off his hat trick, scoring on a high shot from the low slot.
Tyler Savage closed out the scoring with 9:09 to play, rifling in a shot from the left point. That goal invoked the running-clock mercy rule.
Junior goaltender Nate Bradbury needed just 19 saves to log Red River's first shutout of the season.
"This is probably the best game we've played overall," Chase said. "We've been tentative. Today we finally played with passion. When the feet are flying it does so much for us."
"In the second and third periods we eliminated the majority of the little mistakes we've been making the last few games," Chase added.
Red River improved to 7-0-2 with the victory. Century slipped to 8-2 with the setback.