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‘A tale of two teams’: Braves fall 4-1 to Coyotes

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

The Bottineau-Rugby Braves’ varsity hockey coach Jesse Nostdahl described Tuesday’s game at Al Wentz Arena against the Williston Coyotes using literary terms.

“What you saw tonight was a tale of two teams,” he said.

Fans from Rugby and Bottineau filled the stands near the team’s “other” home ice in Rugby, cheering on a Braves team dressed in green uniforms.

“It was a jersey mistake tonight,” Nostdahl said.

Braves fans took the uniform color change in stride; many wore University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University gear to stand with their players.

The Braves charged onto the ice as the game began, and as the clock ticked down to 16:20, center Matt Olson landed a Braves goal, assisted by center Ian Amsbaugh and left wing Landon Rosendahl.

The local crowd cheered and the Braves thumped on the board outside of their bench area.

“I think we got a favorable line match up there and we capitalized on it,” Nostdahl said of the score.

The Coyotes fought back, moving in a pack toward the Braves’ defensive zone and keeping Braves’ goalie Robert Dibble on high alert.

After several Dibble saves, the Coyotes kept the pressure on, scoring a goal of their own with just over two minutes in the first period. Forward Kyle Mischke landed the puck inside the Braves’ net, assisted by forward Haden Bergstrom.

The Braves turned up their aggression, landing Amsbaugh in the penalty box.

The second period saw a switch to goalie Tyler Olson, who also stayed busy fending off Coyotes.

Williston’s Ashton Collings scored another Coyote goal with just over three minutes left in the second period, assisted by forward Carter Bakken.

The third period began with a 2-1 lead for Williston and even more aggressive plays on both sides. Williston defenseman Dale Kjorstad landed in the penalty box for interference. Bottineau-Rugby’s Rosendahl and Riley Bieberdorf spent two minutes in the box for cross checking.

Williston’s Kjorstad scored yet another goal, assisted by Bergstrom and Hunter Rossland.

Players on both teams kept the pressure on each other. Both missed more passes and tumbled on the ice.

Kjorstad added to Williston’s lead with six minutes left in the game. The Braves scrambled toward the Coyotes’ D-zone, but several shots bounced away from the goal.

The Coyotes finished the game with a 4-1 lead over the Braves.

After the game, Nostdahl said of the Braves’ first period play, “That was us moving the puck and doing the things we could do with the puck. I thought most of the other parts of the game, you saw us at our worst.”

Nostdahl said the Braves “were unsure and unconfident and it just wasn’t an ideal outing for most of the game by a lot of our players.”

Did the venue change from Bottineau Arena to Al Wentz Arena make a difference?

“Our performance says that and our play says that,” Nostdahl said. “I think we play a little better there for whatever reasons, but it’s really no excuse. We have to come and play at both (venues). It’s hockey here and it’s hockey there.”

Nostdahl said of the Braves’ remaining games, “We have a lot of adversity coming up. We’ve got Mandan (in Bottineau) and we’re really going to be short-staffed there; some guys are injured and some guys are out. We’re going to have to do next man up and going to have to dig deep.”

“It’s playoff hockey and they’ve got to find a way to gel and play to the best of their abilities,” Nostdahl added.

The Bottineau-Rugby Braves met the Mandan Braves in Bottineau Friday. Results will appear in next week’s Tribune.

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