Braves bust up Minot High 9-6
BOTTINEAU – A frozen rabbit was thrown on the ice, a game misconduct was handed out and the two coaches exchanged words at center ice following the game Monday. None of this is wholly unexpected when Bottineau-Rugby and Minot High square off in boys hockey.
What mattered most was the final score and the three points toward the West Region standings. The Braves were able to block out much of the extracurricular activity surrounding the rivalry and harness the energy of a packed home crowd to shoot their way to a 9-6 win at Bottineau Community Arena.
B-R (10-4 overall, 7-2 region) scored five power play goals and one shorthanded to keep the stingy Magicians at bay after the visitors fell behind, 5-1, early in the second period.
“As much as they answered, we just never let them within that two-goal lead that we had,” B-R coach David Hoff said. “I thought there were a lot of crucial goals. Kids just kept making plays.”
A Magician was in the box less than two minutes into the game, and B-R senior Andrew Hill capitalized with the first of his two goals on a shot between junior goalie Breydan Effertz’s legs. Senior Harrison Aide followed with the first goal of his hat trick on a laser from the right circle. MHS (10-5, 8-3) scored with less than three minutes left in the period, but sophomore Ethan Czaplewski received a 10-minute game misconduct for boarding and B-R followed with three power-play goals.
“I thought 5-on-5, for the most part, we were the dominant hockey team, but our penalty kill was atrocious,” MHS coach Chad Burckhard said. “It was awful. I mean, we were standing around, we were watching their forwards have their way with us and nobody did anything to stop the bleeding.
“We knew that coming in. Harrison did the same dang thing to us last year. If you stand around watching them play, you’re not going to win hockey games.”
Aide wasn’t the only Brave on fire. Junior linemate Luke Amsbaugh scored four goals, including a pair on the long power play to end the first period. Aide set up the first of those with a pass from behind the goal and Hill set up the second with a kick of the puck.
Hill lost his stick and when the puck came his way two Magicians closed in along the right boards near mid-ice. Hill got his skate on it to buy just enough time for Amsbaugh to slide in for a screamer that went top shelf with just 5.8 seconds left.
“I didn’t mean to drop my stick, but that just kind of happened,” Hill said. “I was just thinking to keep the puck in, keep the puck in and keep the power play alive. Luke was really the easiest option on that one and the closest, and kicking it was the only thing I could do.”
The score reached 7-2 when Amsbaugh scored on a shorthanded goal with less than five minutes left in the second period and Effertz was pulled in favor of sophomore Kross Braaten.
“Each goal is huge,” Amsbaugh said. “There’s a big difference between a two-goal lead and three-goal lead because it kills their spirits and almost makes it feel like they’ve already lost the game before it’s even over.”
It wasn’t quite over as MHS scored three unanswered to get within two goals. Aide, the state’s reigning points leader and current leader, came up with the next rally crusher on adizzying unassisted dash down the ice. Aide duked his way by the MHS defense before lifting a backhander over the stick-side shoulder of Braaten.
“Give Bottineau credit,” Burckhard said. “They put pucks to the net, put pressure on our goaltenders and defensemen all night long. We just have to do a better job of coming out to play and we just never got off of the bus tonight until it was way too late.”
Amsbaugh had the fitting conclusion to his explosive evening, scoring the final goal of the game with 43 seconds left. He popped out of the penalty box (cross check) and almost instantly buried a pass from Aide.
“We can’t afford to lose some of those guys and I thought we took a couple little silly penalties at the end,” Hoff said. “On the other hand, you have to compete too and you can’t back down. You have to stand your ground and we did a good job of that out there tonight.
Aide and Amsbaugh are tied with a state-best 35 goals. Aide has 29 assists to Amsbaugh’s 20. MHS senior Quinn Fuchs is 10 points behind Amsbaugh with 45 (16 g, 29 a).
The Braves play at Bismarck Century at 5:30 p.m., tonight and remain on the road for a matchup with Mandan on Tuesday. B-R was one point behind the Patriots (12-2, 8-1) through Thursday.
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