Rugby falls one goal short
The third place game at the state high school-level hockey tournament was not where Rugby envisioned its North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association season would end.
The third-seeded Ice Hawks had high hopes to reach the championship game for the first time, but it was not meant to be.
Nevertheless, Rugby rebounded from its one-goal semifinal loss to the Fargo Flyers to rout Langdon 12-0 for third place on March 7 in Grand Forks.
“It was a devastating loss (in the semifinals), especially for our seniors,’ said Rugby coach Jay McClintock Jr., who was named league co-coach of the year. “I was happy with how we came back that next day and put a good exclamation point on our season with the win over Langdon.”
It was the second straight year the Ice Hawks finished third at the tournament and fourth time in the past five seasons the program has come home with a trophy. Rugby was consolation champions in 2006 and 2008.
While the squad did not reach its goal of reaching the state championship, McClintock credits his team for playing an outstanding tournament.
“When you outscore your opposition 22-6 and outshoot them in each game, you did a lot of good things,’ he said. “With the exception of that first half of the first period in that semifinal game with the Fargo Flyers, we were solid.”
The final chapter of Rugby’s season isn’t written, however. For the second year in a row, the Ice Hawks (17-6-1) will compete in the Northern Plains President’s Cup in Rapid City, S.D. March 19-21. The tournament includes some of the top high school-level teams from North and South Dakota as well as Wyoming and Montana. Rugby went 1-2 last season at the tournament.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play a few more games together,’ coach McClintock said. “It’s hard to believe we just about didn’t have a team this year due to low numbers. This has been a special group of players and parents to work with.”
Rugby 12, Langdon 0
Rugby started the season with a win over Langdon and ended it with one as well.
The Ice Hawks blitzed No. 8 seeded Blades 12-0 in the third place game on March 7, scoring eight goals in the first period.
“We just jumped on them early and again a number of players got contributed,’ McClintock said.
Fargo Flyers 3, Rugby 2
Rugby fired 49 shots on Fargo Flyer goalie Cody Sturlaugson, including 16 in the final 20 minutes as the Ice Hawks feverishly attempted to get the tying goal.
However, Sturlaugson wouldn’t be beaten again, helping the Flyers to a 3-2 semifinal win on March 6.
“We ran into a hot goalie,’ McClintock said. “We made some big stops and got a few good bounces. We hit a few posts and crossbars.”
It was the second straight season the Ice Hawks lost a one-goal semifinal decision to the Flyers.
It took just :49 seconds for Fargo forward Jason Lee to give the Flyers the lead.
“That first shift of the game we couldn’t get the puck out of our end,’ McClintock said. “They won a face off and got a good shot that went in.”
Rugby’s Kyle Volk would answer at the 4:35 mark of the first period. He received a pass in the neutral zone from defenseman Jacob McClintock and then weaved in to beat Sturlaguson.
However, Lee would score twice more, both goals coming six seconds apart, to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead.
“That turned out to be the difference,’ McClintock said. “We let him get into the zone and get time to get shots off at the top of the circle. We were back on our heels in that first half of the first period.”
Rugby would cut the deficit late in the second period while on a 5-on-3 power play. Forward Chris Fedje, camped in front of the Fargo goal, tipped in a point shot from defenseman Pake Hagen past Sturlaugson,
The Ice Hawks had several chances in the third period, including one power play, but couldn’t generate any good scoring opportunities.
The Flyer defense time and time again prevented Volk and defenseman Aaron Teigen from carrying the puck up the middle of the ice in the Fargo zone. Instead, forcing them to the outside.
Rugby goalie Thomas Seaver gave his team a chance to win, keeping a potent Flyer offense off the board for the better part of two and a half periods. “Thomas made some big saves to keep the game close,’ McClintock said.
The loss was the second to the Flyers this season.
Rugby 9, Watford City 3
Rugby dashed any hopes of an upset by No. 6 Watford City with a strong first period. The Ice Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead and rolled from there to a 9-3 quarterfinal win over the Oilers on March 5.
Sophomore Kyle Volk scored three second period goals to help Rugby break open the game. Aaron Teigen, Chris Fedje, Leo Hoffert, Parker Collins, Tanner Lunde and Jordon Kuhnhenn also scored in the game.
“We really opened up the game in the second, scoring five goals,’ McClintock said. “Our two Bantam-level players – Parker Collins and Tanner Lunde – got to play regular shifts and that was good. It allowed us to rest more of our players.”
Goalie Thomas Seaver made 16 saves in net for Rugby.
The victory was Rugby’s third over the Oilers this season.