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Braves not out of playoff picture

By Staff | Feb 14, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Bottineau-Rugby’s Matt Olson (left) stays ahead of Mandan's Blake Kilen in last week's game

The Bottineau-Rugby Braves faced the Braves of Mandan in Bottineau Arena last Friday with the numbers already stacked against them.

Four players were out with injuries, soon to be joined by a fifth in the first period when Rylie Rybchinski left the game under concussion protocol.

“We knew today would be tough,” Coach Jesse Nostdahl said of his Bottineau-Rugby team after their heartbreaking 1-7 defeat. “To be honest, I was happy with our game. I thought we played well. I thought the guys played well on both sides of the rink. I thought we did an excellent job on shot suppression.”

Goalies Tyler Olson and Robert Dibble stayed busy during the game, keeping out most of the 18 Mandan attempts at the Bottineau-Rugby goal.

Mandan goalie Zane Clausen and his team didn’t have the same luck keeping Bottineau-Rugby’s shots down. The home team’s skeleton crew managed to get 25 shots and keep the puck with them for the majority of the game.

However, Mandan’s smaller number of shots counted where they needed to.

Drew Condon scored the first Mandan goal at 6:47 in the first period, assisted by forward Olin Halstengard and defender Ryan Blowers. Three minutes later, defender Joshua Moe scored another goal unassisted, ending the first period with a 2-0 Mandan lead. Bottineau-Rugby’s defenders fought hard, slamming on the rink walls. Defender Rybchinski received a possible concussion on a tumble to the ice.

Mandan’s Colby Kramer landed in the penalty box for two minutes after a roughing play near the end of the period.

The Bottineau-Rugby Braves took a break from the action between the first and second period to honor their two senior players, Rugby’s Jesse Mattern, son of Leroy and Tamara Mattern, and Bottineau’s Reese Mohagen, son of Robert and Kasey Mohagen.

Mandan continued their scoring spree in the second period. Forward Dalton Fleck shot the first goal in the period for his team, with Coy Berreth and Condon assisting. Mid-period, forward Parker Zander landed a goal with assistance from forwards Kramer and Carter Berger. With 2:42 left in the period, Kramer scored for Mandan’s Braves, this time with Zander and Justus Sayler assisting.

Zander built on Mandan’s 6-0 lead at 7:57 in the final period with an unassisted goal, followed by a Blowers score less than two minutes later, assisted by Sayler and Berger.

As both teams showed signs of wear, penalties racked up and bodies tended to slide on the ice. With Mandan on the verge of a shutout, fans began to get ready to head home.

With nine seconds left on the clock in the final period, the tenacious Bottineau-Rugby Braves closed in on Mandan territory. Forward Ian Amsbaugh landed a perfect shot in the goal cage, assisted by Adam Nelson.

After Bottineau-Rugby Coach Nostdahl praised his team on shot suppression after the game, he reflected, “I thought we were good on the power play; that was fine, too. We just didn’t get any (shots) to go.”

“Unfortunately,” Nostdahl added, “we just didn’t get some luck on the other side of the puck. That kind of tells the tale. We didn’t get some saves when we needed them.”

Nostdahl said luck played a role, both good and bad, for Braves on both teams.

“I think again some of those shots from the point got some tips and some of them found the net when usually they don’t and that’s hockey.”

“That’s why we all show up and play everyday. One day, we’re going to get there.”

Nostdahl said Bottineau-Rugby still has hope for a place in west regional playoffs.

The Braves would square off in Rugby Friday against Bismarck-Century at Al Wentz Arena. Results of that game will appear in next week’s Tribune.

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