Braves head to region hockey
The Bottineau-Rugby Braves passed two milestones over the weekend, each with different challenges on the road to post-season play in Bismarck.
The Braves suited up in Panther orange and black to meet Bismarck Century’s Patriots at Al Wentz Arena in Rugby last Friday.
The Patriots put the Braves on the defensive early in the game, keeping goalie Tyler Olson busy.
After swarming around Braves’ territory for much of four minutes of the opening period, the Patriots scored the first Bismarck Century goal, shot by forward Luke Gaspar.
Just two minutes later, the Braves’ Adam Nelson scored a goal, assisted by Riley Bieberdorf.
Seconds after that, Gaspar answered with another Bismarck Century goal, assisted by forward Brady Bauer. Bottineau-Rugby evened the score a minute later, thanks to a goal by Ian Amsbaugh, assisted by Matt Olson.
The score climbed as the Patriots pulled ahead 3-2 with a Colton Schulte goal with Kieffer Long and Dawson Shirley assisting.
Brave Landon Rosendahl tied the score at 3-3 next, with Amsbaugh assisting.
With just one second left in the first period, Bismarck Century pulled ahead yet again with an Alex Samardzic goal, with the assistance of Schulte.
The second period saw amped-up defensive plays mounted by both teams. The period ended with no score from either team.
One minute into the third period, the Patriots found an opportunity in the Braves’ defenses and scored an Eli Reimer goal.
Bottineau-Rugby faced a 3-5 score deficit until mid-period, when Rosendahl crashed into Patriot goalie Wyatt Stevahn for another Braves goal.
Rosendahl’s goal would be the last from the Braves in the game, as the Patriots increased their pressure on Bottineau-Rugby’s D-zone, scoring two more goals to win the game 7-4.
“We made some adjustments defensively, and I’m pretty sure they did, too,” Braves’ coach Jesse Nostdahl said of the second and third periods of Friday’s game.
“We’re still out four guys,” Nostdahl added, referring to the number of Braves out with injuries. “Riley Rybchinski’s back – he skated Wednesday, practiced yesterday,” Nostdahl noted.
Rybchinski left the Braves’ Feb. 7 game against Mandan early with a possible concussion.
Nostdahl said the Braves’ play strategy emphasized defense from the beginning of the season.
“You can go back to the first day of the year, even before that, when I first talked to these guys. One of things we wanted as a team was, we knew we were going to have to defend a lot,” he noted.
The Braves returned to Bottineau, and their usual purple and white uniforms, Monday when they faced Hazen-Beulah’s North Stars.
The first period of Monday’s game saw low energy levels from both teams, who missed shot opportunities and signals from teammates at first.
Center/Wing Cole Vietz-Reile skated onto the ice mid-period, where he saw a chance for a goal.
“We were on a penalty kill,” Vietz-Reile said of his score, made with assistance from Olson. “One of my teammates came off the ice and I came on, and I waited for a pass, and passed it over, and there it was.”
The score energized the Braves, who struggled back from a 2-1 deficit made with goals from North Stars Gabriel Pfliger and Jacob Folk.
Amsbaugh tied the score at 2-2 at the beginning of the second period with Matt Olson and Rosendahl assisting. Amsbaugh scored twice more in the period, once with Matt Olson assisting, then with assistance from Rybchinski.
The second period of Monday’s game ended with a 4-2 Bottineau-Rugby lead, and the Braves weren’t done yet.
Rosendahl shot an unassisted goal into the North Star’s net at 14:24 in the third period, followed about five minutes later by a goal from Reese Mohagen, assisted by Cole Vietz-Reile and his twin brother, Dalton.
Two minutes later, North Star Jacob Driscoll landed the puck past Braves goalie Tyler Olson unassisted. Driscoll managed another about three minutes later, but the Braves defense rallied to shut down any more chances at their goal line.
Bieberdorf wrapped up the Braves’ 7-4 win with an unassisted final goal at 2:18.
The Braves’ win ended with shots on goal totals of 41 for Bottineau-Rugby and 29 for Hazen-Beulah.
Nostdahl said he was “happy with the outcome (of Monday’s game), for sure.”
Nostdahl said Monday’s first period “was kind of a wake-up call for us and there wasn’t a lot of energy there. We really challenged the guys in that second period to come up with whatever energy we could find. That second period was night and day.”
The number of goals scored by players not on the primary lines impressed Nostdahl as well.
“Reese got one, Riley Bieberdorf got one, Cole got one. When we get secondary scoring like that – you see a 7-4 game and we get three of our goals from secondary people, that makes the difference in that game. I think they were high on energy, too,” Nostdahl said.
“I really liked our second and third lines,” Nostdahl added.
The Braves would travel to regional playoffs in Bismarck Thursday for three days of games ending Saturday. Results of those games will appear in next week’s Tribune.
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