In hockey, the glory of victory and pains of defeat are the byproduct of what players coaches and staff put into their dedication, practice and tenacity on the ice before there is a single person in the stands. For Dickinson High School’s boys hockey team, the pains of defeat have been unexpected as the Midgets started the season with a paltry one and five record.
In the midst of a four game losing streak, the Midgets took to the ice on Saturday seeking to turn things around. On Saturday the team was not only battling its opponents, staying out of the penalty box and trying to snap its losing streak, they were playing a much more personal opponent — themselves.
After starting the season with a road record of 1-4, it was finally time for the Dickinson Midgets to return home at the West River Ice Center, where the fans’ support and home ice advantage would hopefully lead them to a victory. Fans showed excitement for the official return of boys hockey, as the team that has not played on its home ice since late February last season.
Still, a victory over the top team in the Western region in Jamestown (6-2) was going to be no easy feat for the Midgets.
The Blue Jays opened the show with the first goal of the night in the opening minutes of the initial period with a wrap around on sophomore Jayce Concha, who questioned the non-icing call by the refs.
Distractions on the ice, consistent audible quarrelling amongst teammates on and off the ice and the pressures of a less-than-stellar start to the season seemed to get the better of the Midgets who turned the home ice advantage into a nightmare as Jamestown closed the door in a 6-2 collapse.
Simply put, the Midgets hopes for a win dropped nearly as fast as the puck during the opening faceoff.
“We were not playing the game the right way, a lack of discipline,” Head Coach Dallas Kuntz said. “From midway through the first period when things started getting down I saw a side of our team that I haven’t seen before. I saw people bickering at each other and starting to get at each other’s throats and we didn’t play a team game tonight.”
Kuntz added, “I expected more out of our guys. I take responsibility, things are going to look a lot different come Monday as far as accountability goes.”
The Midgets went into the first intermission only trailing by a lone goal scored by Blue Jays’ Jake Thompson. The tenacious fighting spirit, shown on so many previous occasions by the Midgets had fans excited for the comeback...but, it never came.
By the time the home team returned to the ice to start the second period, heated tempers turned the cold arena into a sauna of emotions. Continued bickering and in-fighting throughout the period led the Blue Jays to extend the lead on three consecutive goals.
By the time Midgets’ Kaden Dvorak managed to score the team’s first goal against standout goalie Brode Hillstrom, it seemed as if the entire crowd was playing the ‘silent game’ as only the sound of ice skates could be heard.
The Midgets went into the second intermission with a 4-1 deficit — perhaps now the turn around would begin, fans hoped.
As the third period began, what started as a simmering turmoil and in-fighting turned into a full on eruption after numerous penalties all but iced any hopes of a comeback. Totaling only four penalties within the first two periods combined, the Midgets seemed keen on extending the tally as players were dealt five penalties in the third period alone, nine on the day.
The teams traded goals as the closing period went underway, with the Midget’s Evan Groll ripping a good slap shot at quarter ice. That would be the end of the Midget’s offense as the Blue Jays gave the Midgets the cold shoulder for the remainder of the match.
“We were taking way too many slashing calls, we got guys hooking … kind of those lazy undisciplined penalties,” Kuntz said. “When you give Jamestown that many power plays, they’re going to crush you.”
By the end of the 6-2 defeat to Jamestown, Kuntz seemed ready to leave the ice. In an uncharristical move, Kuntz’ demeanor seemed thunderstruck as his attention turned to plans for his team at their next practice.
“Give kudos to Jamestown, they’re at the top of the Western region for a reason,” he said. “But if we can’t give a better fight than that, then it’s going to be a long season for us.”
Despite the team now having a five-game losing streak, Kuntz said he does not believe that was what provoked the inner-tension within his team.
“Even if you’re on a losing streak, you should be hungrier than ever. You should want that win like no other and you should want it not for yourself, but you should want it for your teammates and the logo on your jersey,” Kuntz said. “I don’t think we represented our school, our team or our town very well tonight.”
Midgets are set to host Bismarck Century on Tuesday.