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Midgets boys hockey hold on to win over Braves

It is rare that the Dickinson High boys hockey team finds a match for its own grittiness. Bottineau-Rugby proved to be a worthy foe for much of their game Saturday, but the Midgets outlasted the Braves for a 3-0 win at the West River Ice Center. ...

Dickinson High senior Josh Stengel fires a shot through traffic against Bottineau-Rugby on Saturday at the West River Ice Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior Josh Stengel fires a shot through traffic against Bottineau-Rugby on Saturday at the West River Ice Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

It is rare that the Dickinson High boys hockey team finds a match for its own grittiness.

Bottineau-Rugby proved to be a worthy foe for much of their game Saturday, but the Midgets outlasted the Braves for a 3-0 win at the West River Ice Center.

Dickinson took an early lead on a funky play just two minutes into the first period. One minute into a power play, senior Jerzy Martin rifled a shot off the top left corner of the crossbar behind Braves goalie Micah Hershey, but the puck deflected down into the crease. It was accidently pushed into the goal by a Bottineau-Rugby skater, and the score was credited to Martin - his team-leading 14th of the season. Sophomore Ryan Bren was given the assist.

"I think our first goal was kind of indicative on how our first period went in the fact that we weren't able to generate anything, we weren't communicating that well, we weren't playing team hockey," Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. "Three points in the West Region is tough every single day, and our boys need to understand that you have to come out and play your best game every day. For us, that goal was huge in that it got us started, but we were very fortunate to come out of the first two periods only being up 1-0."

After a scoreless middle period, Dickinson (9-4-1, 7-4 West Region) finally created some separation in the third.

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Junior Peter Pavek found his way past Hershey for a 2-0 lead 4 minutes, 8 seconds into the final period.

"Peter's a grinder, and he's a really smart hockey player," Kuntz said. "I'm very happy to see him get a goal, and that two-goal cushion at the end of the game is huge for us because we very well could have been shorthanded there with their goalie pulled in the last minute only up 1-0. It's a big goal by Peter."

Pavek's second goal of the season came off assists from Dawson Kram and Cody Shepard.

"It felt like a relief. It gave us a little more breathing room," Pavek said.

In a way, Pavek's goal was a small reward for keeping Bottineau-Rugby out of the net and maintaining advantage.

Kuntz said the play within the blue lines was vital in that regard.

"To hold a 1-0 lead throughout the whole game is pretty hard usually," Pavek said, "so it was nice to see everybody work hard defensively."

On the other side, Braves (1-11, 1-7) head coach David Hoff said his team was a bit sloppy in its puck control. He said his team fought to keep the game close, but with just 17 shots against Dickinson goalie Gabe Vaagen, the Bottineau-Rugby offense left a lot to be desired.

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"We had trouble handling the pressure they put in the offensive zone on the forecheck," Hoff said. "We're trying to be a team that possesses the puck, and we're not quite there yet, and consequently we turned the puck over in neutral ice and we're right back to defending our own zone."

Dickinson's Mike Herauf completed the scoring with nine seconds to play in the game off assists from Shepard and Kram again. It was Herauf's fourth goal this season.

The Midgets are now riding a four-game winning streak and will look for a season sweep of Bismarck Century when they visit the Patriots on Tuesday. Dickinson defeated Century 5-3 at home last month, and Kuntz hopes the team's recent play carries over. The Patriots lead Dickinson in the West Region standings by just one point.

"We've strung together some wins here, and the last couple of years, our biggest problem has been consistency," Kuntz said. "Beating Century earlier in the year, we know we're going to get their best shot. ... The winner of that game moves ahead of the other in the standings. We're excited for the task."

Dickinson High 3, Bottineau-Rugby 0

BR 0 0 0 - 0

DHS 1 0 2 - 3

FIRST PERIOD: 1, DHS, Jerzy Martin (Ryan Bren), 2:00.

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SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 2, DHS, Peter Pavek (Dawson Kram, Cody Shepard), 4:08. 3, DHS, Mike Herauf (Shepard, Kram), 16:51.

SAVES: BR, Micah Hershey 17-13-17-47. DHS, Gabe Vaagen 6-5-6-17.

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