Midgets Prepare for West Region Hockey
It has been eight seasons since Dickinson High last went to the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament. It was also the last time the Midgets ended the season with a winning record until this year. Their regular-season finish provides a silver...
It has been eight seasons since Dickinson High last went to the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament.
It was also the last time the Midgets ended the season with a winning record until this year.
Their regular-season finish provides a silver lining for Midgets co-coach Dave Hanneman as the team enters the West Region Tournament.
"This is our best chance I've ever had as a coach and our team has ever had to go to state," Hanneman said.
The sixth-seeded Midgets (10-9-2) will close out a full day of West Region quarterfinals games at Bismarck's VFW Arena today against third-seeded Jamestown, a team it lost to at home but beat 6-2 on the road in the first game of the season.
"You can't take them lightly," Dickinson junior goaltender Grant Kovacs said of the Blue Jays. "If we take them lightly, then we'll definitely have a problem."
Kovacs has been Dickinson's backbone this season. He's second in the state with a 94 percent save percentage, is allowing just 2.02 goals a game and has 511 saves in 17 games - a shade over 30 per game.
Hanneman admits that he didn't think Kovacs would make as much of an impact as he has this season. However, the coach is glad that Kovacs gives the Midgets a chance to win games they shouldn't have and stay in games they eventually lost.
"(Kovacs) still gives us a chance to win with how steady he's played," Hanneman said. "He's been our most consistent player bar none. He's been our backbone."
Kovacs has had several banner nights this season. Unfortunately when his saves total climbs above 30, it usually means a loss or a tie for the Midgets.
When Kovacs struggles, the Midgets turn to junior Jeff Kaiser and sophomore Cole Frenzel for an offensive boost.
Kaiser, who scored just two goals last season, leads the Midgets with 18 goals and 11 assists. Frenzel follows close behind with 17 goals.
"It's fun to score," Kaiser said with a laugh. "Last year I was hardly playing."
While Kaiser and Frenzel have been Dickinson go-to scorers, Hanneman said the Midgets will need to rely on every player if they want to advance to their first state tournament since 2000.
"Those two definitely have stood out, but we also have 10 other guys who have contributed and that's what its going to take," Hanneman said. "We do have great weapons, but those weapons need to show up to play and the rest of our guys need to show up to play."
One of those weapons is senior defenseman Lance Jenson.
The captain said finishing the season with a 1-0 victory over Hazen-Beulah, which secured the sixth seed in the tournament and the Midgets' first winning season since 1999-2000, helped make the season worthwhile.
"It's been a good season" Jenson said. "We did reach our first goal of being over .500, that's a big boost for us going into (West Region)."