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Speed, smarts and strength

Rugby’s senior defensive trio bring it all to the ice

February 26, 2010
Matt Mullally

One is the speedster, another the thinker and the third the bruiser.

Together they represent one of the best defensive units in the North Dakota Amateur High School-level hockey league.

The senior trio of Aaron Teigen, Pake Hagen and Jacob McClintock is a big reason Rugby has turned in one of its best seasons in program history and could make a serious run at a state title this week in Grand Forks.

"Heading into the season I knew our defensemen were going to be the strength of our team,' said Rugby coach Jay McClintock Jr. "We had a lot of experience back there."

The three have been playing on the blue line ever since they began playing on organized teams a dozen years ago and each brings a different look to the position.

Teigen is a gifted skater and uses his speed and puckhandling abilities to lead a rush up ice and generate offense. He's the second-leading scorer on the Ice Hawks and leads all defense in scoring in the league. "Aaron is such a skilled player he sees the ice so well,'' McClintock said.

Teigen knows his offense is important, but he also prides himself of being a good two-way defender, and nullifying scoring chances as well as creating them.

Hagen is more of a stay-at-home defenseman, but does have six goals on the season and has 18 points. "He rarely gets out of position and plays his angles very well,' McClintock said. "He's Mr. Steady back there."

McClintock doesn't have the scoring skills of Teigen or the polished position play of Hagen, but he brings raw determination and physical play.

"He's not afraid to mix things up in the corner and battle in front of the net,' McClintock said.

All three complement each other and have helped to make Rugby a tough team to play against.

They credit their goalie and forwards for making their jobs easier. "Thomas has been steady,' said Jacob. "And our forwards back check well."

The success of the team, especially the ability to score goals was a a surprise, Pake admits.

"I really thought we would have to keep the scores down to win games, like 2-1,' Hagen said. "We're scoring a lot more goals than I expected."

And that has taken some of the pressure off the trio and Seaver to play a perfect defensive game.

What's also impressive is how much ice time the three are logging, nearly 40 minutes out of a 60-minute game.

"Sometimes I forget just how much they are playing,' McClintock Jr. said. "If one of them happens to be in the penalty box, the other two have to kill the entire two minute penalty. And on the power play, all three are out there. We move Aaron to one of the forward positions."

They have avoided any serious injuries which was critical to the team's chances of a high finish in the league, McClintock said.

The three, like the rest of the seniors on the squad, have just a few more opportunities to put on the Rugby uniform.

"We're going to miss playing, miss watching the team (in the future),' Teigen said.

Its a distinct possibility that Rugby won't field a high school-level boys team next year because of low numbers, and that's all the more motivation for a good state tournament.

"We're a family,' Jacob said. "I've played with these guys for many years."



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