Braves take to road for ‘must win’ games
A schedule packed with road games had the Bottineau-Rugby Braves traveling from near the South Dakota state line north to Canada over the weekend through Tuesday.
The Braves began their series of road games last Thursday in Jamestown after what Coach Jesse Nostdahl described as “their best week of practice.”
“We came back from May-Port and made a few adjustments,” Nostdahl said. “We were hoping it would carry over tonight and it did.”
The Braves took the ice in the first period and swarmed in Jamestown Blue Jay territory from the start, scoring two goals with 13:39 left to go.
Center Matt Olson scored first, assisted by Landon Rosendahl. North Dakota scoring leader Ian Amsbaugh hit in the second unassisted.
Jamestown goalie Riley Gerhardt stayed vigilant, adding some saves to his record as Braves shots flew away from their mark.
Penalties went to Braves right wing Jesse Mattern and Blue Jay forward Cooper Allen for interference. A skirmish in Braves territory sent more on both sides to the penalty box.
The Braves continued their onslaught second period when Amsbaugh hit in yet another goal, this time assisted by center Cole Vietz-Reile. Seconds later, center Matt Olson scored another goal, assisted by Rosendahl.
Jamestown followed with two back-to-back goals of their own at 7:24 and 7:06 left in the period. Nolan Nenow scored first, assited by Hunter Nelson and Jace Thompson, then Zach Rene scored with assistance from Thompson.
The third period began with a 4-2 Braves lead and plenty of battle left for both sides.
Goalie Tyler Olson met increased pressure from the Blue Jays with more saves, but Blue Jay Thompson managed to sneak in a goal with help from Nenow and Jacoby Nold. The Braves answered with a goal from center Andrew Lemar, assisted by Vietz-Reile. The Blue Jays answered back with a goal from Hunter Nelson, assisted by Thompson and Nenow.
An Olson/Amsbaugh goal for the Braves followed, but the Blue Jays circled around, finding their way to two more goals by Hunter Nelson, assisted by Nenow and Nold, and Nenow, assisted by Tommy Falk and Braxton Jorissen.
Despite the late goals, the Blue Jays came up short against the Braves, who ended the game with a 7-6 win.
Vietz-Reile, a sophomore at Rugby High School, said of his assists, “It feels amazing. I assisted on great goals. It helped us get the lead again and it was an awesome feeling.”
“I think we’re doing a great job,” Vietz-Reile added, noting the co-op team has “great chemistry.”
“We had a really good week of practice, for sure,” Olson said after the game. “I think that translated into a good game and a good team win.”
Goalie Tyler Olson had 44 saves in the game, while Gerhardt had 27 for the Blue Jays.
The Braves traveled west to Mandan the next day for an even match against Mandan’s Braves.
The first period began with Mandan goals by Nate Lillis (Drew Condon and Justus Sayler assisting) and Parker Zander (Joshua Moe and Ryan Blowers assisting). Bottineau-Rugby answered with two unassisted goals of their own scored by Amsbaugh.
The second period began with a goal scored by Carter Berger (Zayne Fay and Zander assisting). Rosendahl followed with a goal, assisted by Amsbaugh and Matt Olson, and another by Amsbaugh with Rosendahl and Matt Olson assisting. Zander answered for Mandan, assisted by Fay and Blowers.
Mandan broke the 4-4 tie at 7:19 with a goal from Coy Berreth, assisted by Fay and Kolby Kramer.
Goalie Tyler Olson logged 26 saves for the game, while Mandan’s Zane Clausen had 21.
The Bottineau-Rugby Braves traveled north of the Border Tuesday, where they faced the Broncos in Boissevain for three twenty-minute periods of hockey per Canadian rules.
Nostdahl said the exhibition game provided a good practice opportunity for the Braves.
“Hockey Canada, their league up here, does 20-minute periods,” Nostdahl said.
Amsbaugh scored the first of two Braves goals in the first period. The Boissevain Broncos tied with a power play goal scrored by Karsyn Fluker, assisted by Tyson Pringle, a Canadian player with family ties to Bottineau.
Bottineau-Rugby answered with a Matt Olson goal, with assists from Rosendahl and Amsbaugh.
The teams, described by several spectators as “very evenly matched,” began a defensive battle that lasted the rest of the game. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties went to Rosendahl and Bronco Ty Lone, and Rylie Rybchinski drew a major penalty that took him out of the game when he hit a Bronco player in the knee.
The Braves ended the defensive battle with a 2-1 win.
“I thought the stamina stayed pretty well, especially when they had to kill off that five-minute penalty and those penalty kills. They had to dig deep, and some of those guys really rounded out. Our penalty kills are supposed to be aggressive, and that’s sort of by design.”
“Our whole mentality moving forward, from this month and on into February is playoff hockey, we want to call it. We want to take every game as a must-win game. Today, that was kind of the mentality in the room. We wanted to come in and start that charge right now. The boys all bought in and I thought they played well tonight. It was a good hockey game,” Nostdahl noted.
“We have the weekend off, which is nice. We can focus on some things in practice, then we’ve got Hazen and Dickinson which are two games we’ve got targeted, and those are must-wins as well.”
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