Aide to aid Braves
The Bottineau-Rugby hockey team lost five high-powered seniors to graduation, but still figure into the state-tournament discussion.
It starts with senior forward Harrison Aide, the reigning points leader in the state. Aide posted 90 points (34 goals, 56 assists) and the next closest player in the state had 67 points.
“This team’s got a lot of good things,” coach David Hoff said. “We return a lot of players that have played a lot. And then we have a lot of young kids. We have 23 kids, which for us is a lot. To anyone else in the state it’s not, necessarily, but I like what I’ve seen in the first week already.
“The Braves hope to return to Ralph Engelstad Arena for the first time since 2011, while replacing their top two defensemen Cody Longie and Wyatt Johnson. Longie is playing for the Fargo Force of the USHL. The team also lost the RHS-loaded line of forwards Tanner Lunde, Sheldon Thompson and Maverick Gronvold.
“We have to find a little bit of depth on the forward side of things and we’ve got to find some guys to replace those defensemen that ate up a lot of minutes for us,” Hoff said.
Longie was second on the team with 63 points, but junior forward Luke Amsbaugh (55) and senior defenseman Andrew Hill (34) return. Senior defenseman Nigel Hageness is expected to have a major impact after missing most of last season with an injury.
“I think we just gotta work hard, really play aggressive along the boards,” senior forward Cody Bedlion said. “We need to fly to the puck, we don’t want to lose any races.”
Senior goaltender Riley Monson is back and looking to improve on his 86 percent save percentage.
Hoff sees Bismarck High as the favorite in the West Region and expects Minot High and Century be near the top.
“After that, Dickinson has some really good young players,” Hoff said. “I think it’s really wide open when you go from there.
“A top four finish to advance to state is still an expectation despite having a younger team than last year’s.”
I think it’s gotta be part of what we’re trying to do without a doubt,” the 25th-year coach said. “How much better can our kids get in the next 3 or 4 months? They need the chance and experience.
“The season opens Tuesday against Devils Lake at 7:30 p.m. at Bottineau Community Arena.