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Braves start hockey season with win

By Staff | Nov 29, 2019

Sue Sitter/PCT Braves’ Center Matt Olson follows the puck with his eyes after losing his helmet in a body check against Jeremiah Hill of the Devils Lake Firebirds.

The Rugby/Bottineau Braves began their season Tuesday night at the Bottineau Arena with a 4-0 shutout win against the Devils Lake Firebirds.

The win came as a shock to fans on both sides.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Brave center Ian Amsbaugh said with a surprised smile after the game. Amsbaugh finished the evening as the top high school hockey scorer in the state.

Amsbaugh’s linemate and friend off the ice, left wing Landon Rosendahl was right behind him in the second spot.

The last time the Braves defeated the Firebirds was in 2012.

“We played well as a team,” Amsbaugh said. “Hopefully, we can build off this. We’re not ranked very high, so hopefully, we can show the region what we’ve got.”

The Braves sit in the #4 spot in the western regional standings just behind Jamestown.

Amsbaugh started the evening off with a goal assisted by Rosendahl, then shot another in 14 minutes into the second period.

Amsbaugh took a turn at assisting in the third period when Rosendahl shot the puck past the goal line. The Braves’ momentum, which hadn’t slowed all game, spread to center wing Andrew Lemar, who shot for his own score 15 minutes into the 17-minute period. The Braves went wild, hugging and slamming each other against the retaining wall in the rink, knocking two panes of glass onto the ice.

After a 10-minute maintenance break, the game continued, with the Braves’ defense and goalie Tyler Olson stopping every Firebird attempt at the goal.

Braves’ Coach Jesse Nostdahl said the Braves’ goal was “just keep building off this win. These last three weeks have been kind of hectic and chaotic and we didn’t really know what we were going to get tonight. I think we laid down a really good foundational piece and we’re just going to keep working on the final details of it.”

Nostdahl added, “The way that high school hockey is now, every night, you’ve got to come with a different mindset and kind of hit that ‘reset’ button. The Jamestown and Dickinson games will be a good test for us. Those are conference games and that’ll be the next step to see where we’re at.”

Nostdahl said he hoped Tuesday’s win would “send a message” about the way this season’s Braves play.

“That’s going to be the message every game this year. I don’t think everybody thinks we can be in games like this consistently. We’re going to pack it in on defense and play tight, and attack when we can.”

The Braves face the Jamestown Blue Jays Friday evening at the Al Wentz Arena in Rugby.

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