Demons first true West test for Braves
Bottineau-Rugby hockey coach David Hoff likes the progress his defense has made through the team’s first nine games, but the biggest test yet is today.
The Braves (7-2 overall, 4-0 West Region) play at region-leading Bismarck High (10-2, 5-1) at 3 p.m.
“I think the biggest thing is just the depth they have and they play so hard,” Hoff said. “They’re gonna come after you. You get down and you see three or four lines. We’ve got to be able to put lines out there, not only defending in our own zone.”
Century dealt the Demons their only region loss of the season in a 3-2 overtime game. BHS is led by senior forward Jared Spooner (11 goals, 9 assists).
“We got a lot of depth,” BHS coach Mike Peluso said. “We’re rolling four lines. We can kind of wear teams out. For whatever reason, that night (against Century) we could not bury our chances. Our game plan for everyone we’ve played is to wear them out.”
The Braves can’t match the Demons in depth, but BHS will face the state’s top two in points for the first time this season. Senior forward Harrison Aide (22 g, 18 a) and junior forward Luke Amsbaugh (24 g, 14 a) will test the Demons each time the duo is on the ice. BHS senior goaltender Brett Malkmus has saved 93 percent of the shots he faced through 12 starts.
“We got a key on their two top players and hold them at bay and play good solid defense,” Peluso said, “and make it difficult for them to move in our end and if we can do that we have a good chance.
“(Malkmus) seems to make the saves he’s supposed to and a couple he’s not. He’s been around the block, he’s a good kid and good competitor.”
Hoff said he’ll need his second line to step up and keep the Demons busy when the Aide and Amsbaugh line is off the ice. The top line has experience playing with the top Bismarck players and will be up to the task.
“One thing I like about these guys is they’re respectful of players who are good,” Hoff said. “We used to be a little intimidated by the bigger schools, but we got beyond that. We want to play those teams.”
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