Braves willing to work
DEVILS LAKE – The Bottineau-Rugby Braves suffered a disappointing 9-5 loss in the season opener at non-region foe Devils Lake on Tuesday.
B-R trailed by as much as 8-2 in the second period, but battled to keep the game competitive. Braves senior forward Luke Amsbaugh and junior forward Noah Grant led the team with two goals apiece.
Junior goaltender Ethan Clements (RHS) finished with 45 saves and improved as the game went on, following five goals allowed in the first period.
Devils Lake had seven goal scorers, and senior goalie Holden Kurtz made 13 saves through two periods. Sophomore backup Wyatt Ness had 6 saves in the third.
The Braves finished 14-10 and lost in a state qualifier last season. The unexpected early exit brought an end to one of the most prolific high school hockey careers in state history. Harrison Aide graduated as the state’s all-time leader in points and plays junior hockey for the Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League.
His close linemate, Amsbaugh, is the senior leader now and expected to produce and facilitate much of the offense.
“I think the seniors are really gonna have to step up,” Amsbaugh said. “We’re going to have to lead and keep the intensity up.”
Intensity and smarts will be critical on the back end. The Braves graduated a couple experienced and tough defensemen in Andrew Hill and Nigel Hageness.
Braden Pewe is the only senior defensman this season. Junior Trace Armstrong and sophomore Ty Spence saw considerable time in the defense Tuesday.
“It gets better when we get a couple more weeks in,” B-R coach David Hoff said. “I think we’d like to push to get to the middle of the pack in the West Region, but we’ll see.”
Said Clements: “We have to pass a lot. Luke’s the main guy, so if we get it to him, he can create a lot of chances.”
B-R hosts Dickinson at 1 p.m. today.
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