Braves struggled on home ice against Williston
The Williston Coyotes skated off the ice at Bottineau Community Arena Jan. 5 with a 7-3 win due in part to three power play goals in the last minutes of their game against the Bottineau-Rugby Braves.
“Hockey’s a game of ebbs and flows,” said Braves Coach Jesse Nostdahl after the game. “At the start, I thought we were a little slow, then the second was a good period of hockey.”
The Braves found themselves scrambling to keep up with the Coyotes’ speed from the start of the game. Braves goalie Robert Dibble stayed busy, racking up three saves in the first 30 seconds of the game. Dibble would see a total of 30 saves by the game’s end.
The Coyotes’ Ashton Collings landed the game’s first goal with just over one minute left on the first period clock. Defender Ashton Ekblad assisted.
The Braves went on the attack in the second period, with an unassisted Ian Amsbaugh shooting the tying goal for the game at 12:46. Forward Matt Olson struck next, shooting the go-ahead goal with assistance from Adam Handeland just over three minutes later. Forward Colton Getzlaff put some distance between the Braves and the Coyotes with a goal assisted by Alex Lorenz and Riley Bieberdorf.
With just seven seconds left in period 2, the Coyotes struck back with another goal from Collings, this time assisted by forward Kyle Mischke.
In the game’s final period, the Coyotes charged onto the ice energized by their buzzer-beating goal.
Collings started things off with a hat trick, swooping back toward the goal line and shooting the tying goal less than a minute into the period.
Play intensified and the Braves’ penalty total began to climb. The Coyotes had been to the box three times in the second period, but the Braves found trouble in the game’s last 17 minutes.
Forward Jacob Shriver spent two minutes in the penalty box for tripping during the fight to keep Collings away from the goal line early in the third period. He joined the Braves’ struggle to regain their momentum only to catch a major penalty for checking Coyote Colby Nehring from behind.
Gifted with a five-minute power play, the Coyotes’ offense went to work.
Collings assisted the next goal, shot by forward Jackson Ekblad to go ahead 4-3. The Coyotes’ lead grew with another Collings goal, assisted by Carter Bakken and Nehring, who returned to the game after shaking off the injury sustained from the earlier check.
Defender Riley Erickson struck next for the Coyotes, Bakken and Mischke assisting. With 3:44 to go in the last period, Jackson Ekblad scored the game’s final goal, giving the Coyotes a 7-3 win and a 4-1 win/loss record.
Nostdahl described the game’s third period as “kind of flat like the first. (The Coyotes) made us pay. They just made us pay.”
“I thought in the second, we moved the puck really well. Then, in the third, we didn’t,” Nostdahl added. “Again, that’s just the ebbs and flows of the game, and you’re battling a man down. They get that goal late in the second, then early in the third, then there’s that penalty and there’s not a lot of time for a team to develop a real flow and rhythm to the game, so (the loss) was kind of the product of that.”
Looking ahead in the schedule, Nostdahl said, “We have Jamestown and Mandan. We need to win those two.”
The Braves’ 2-3 record put them in fifth place among North Dakota’s west region teams.
Nostdahl said controlling penalties would be key for staying alive through the rest of the season. “We have to stay out of the box,” he said. “That’s a thing we have to focus on. We’re not finding a way to do that.”
“I think penalties have been an issue for us all season,” he noted.
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