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Midgets handle, defeat Braves

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior forward Alex Turcotte, right, skates with the puck against Bottineau-Rugby’s Shawn Schaan during a West Region game on Saturday at Dickinson Recreation Center.

A high school hockey game lasts 51 minutes.

Up until Saturday, the Dickinson High boys hockey team hadn’t played a full game.

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The Midgets changed their ways, taking a 7-2 West Region win over Bottineau-Rugby — one of the most prolific scoring teams in the state — on Saturday at Dickinson Recreation Center.

“Bottineau is a good team and they have guys that can score the puck,” Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. “We came out with the plan that we have to attack from the get-go. The boys played three-full periods — something I haven’t seen yet.

“Now that they know what they are capable of, I’m excited moving forward.”

The Braves had scored three or more goals in their previous 12 games, but were held to a season-low on Saturday. Dickinson held the Braves to 24 shots on goal, while the Midgets countered with 45 shots of their own.

The main culprit of maintaining Bottineau-Rugby’s Harrison Aide and Luke Amsbaugh — the top two scorers in the state — was the Dickinson defense and goaltending. Aide leads the state with 44 points, while Amsbaugh has 40.

“We just had to shut them down,” Dickinson junior defenseman Tony Kostelecky said. “It came down to making sure they didn’t have space, because they are talented players and they can make things happen.”

Dickinson senior goalie Brett Schweitzer added: “Our main objective this game was to shut down those two guys on that one line — Aide and Amsbaugh. We did a good job of that tonight. We kept them out of the house and made them shoot on the outside.”

Schweitzer, who had a less than favorable showing against Minot on Jan. 11, rebounded and made 22 saves. The senior goalie allowed six goals in less than two periods.

“After my last performance against Minot, I wanted to prove something,” he said. “I still had a chip on my shoulder. This was a redemption game for me. That was a terrible performance against Minot and I proved myself tonight.”

Not only did the Dickinson defensemen limit Bottineau-Rugby’s scoring chances, but notched the first goal of the game on a Kostelecky breakaway. The junior defenseman, who had eight assists and one goal coming into the game, said it was huge lift to get the first goal of the game.

“That was such a momentum builder,” he said. “We were pumped coming into the game, but it was even more exciting to come out and get the first goal.”

After Kostelecky’s opening goal, the Midgets scored two more times in the first period. Senior forward Alex Turcotte and junior forward Matt Pavek each supplied a first-period goal.

Dickinson didn’t wait for the Braves to respond in the second period. The Midgets’ junior forward Andrew Heckaman scored at the 12-minute, 34-second mark of the second period.

The Braves got on the board after Amsbaugh scored in the second period, but the Midgets responded right back as Michael McChesney scored with less than a minute left in the second period.

“They were better than we were today without a doubt,” Bottineau-Rugby head coach David Hoff said. “Things were a little tough for us today, but when you say that you have to give (Dickinson) credit, because they got after us today.”

Aide scored the opening goal of the third period and Dickinson countered with goals from McChesney and Heckaman.

Kostelecky said the team didn’t take steps forward and steps backward. It was all a progression forward.

“We took bounds forward today,” Kostelecky said. “I just hope that we come back to practice and keep going.”

The Midgets received a handful of assists including three from Pavek and McChesney. Turcotte, Kass Dvorak and Tate Martel each had one assist.

Dickinson wants to continue their progression forward as the team travels to Bismarck Century at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. The Midgets defeated the Patriots earlier this season 9-6 on Dec. 6.

“I hope this game is a stepping stone,” Kuntz said. “Russia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov once said, ‘You have to come out like gorillas out of a cage.’ Well, let’s come out like gorillas out of a cage and let’s keep going. It’s just a matter of boys understanding what they are capable of. Now that they’ve seen it, I’m excited.”

BR 0 1 1 – 2

Dickinson 3 2 2 – 7

FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Tony Kostelecky (unassisted), 12:57. 2, D, Alex Turcotte (Matt Pavek, Michael McChesney), 11:03. 3, D, Pavek (McChesney), 1:26.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, D, Andrew Heckaman (Kass Dvorak), 12:34. 5, BR, Luke Amsbaugh (Harrison Aide), 8:20. 6, D, McChesney (Pavek, Turcotte), :54.

THIRD PERIOD: 7, BR, Aide (Hunter Haakenson), 11:37. 8, D, McChesney (Pavek, Turcotte), 4:26. 9, D, Heckaman (McChesney), :54.

SAVES: BR, Riley Monson 11-13-14–48. D, Brett Schweitzer 8-6-8–22.