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Midgets rise above Braves with three-goal third period

The Dickinson High boys hockey team won a game in regulation, and while it seems like it shouldn't be, that small feat was exciting. Four of the team's last five games went to overtime, with only one of them finishing in the Midgets' favor. On Sa...

Dickinson senior forward Ryan Bren prevents the puck from leaving the zone in a game against Bottineau-Rugby on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the West River Ice Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson senior forward Ryan Bren prevents the puck from leaving the zone in a game against Bottineau-Rugby on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the West River Ice Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson High boys hockey team won a game in regulation, and while it seems like it shouldn't be, that small feat was exciting.

Four of the team's last five games went to overtime, with only one of them finishing in the Midgets' favor.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Midgets used three third-period goals to defeat Bottineau-Rugby 5-1 at the West River Ice Center.

"All three lines did their job. The guys were communicating. We've been in a lot of overtime games lately, which just drives me nuts," Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. "It drives me nuts, so for us to get out of that, it's kind of like we've been skating in mud the last three, four weeks. Just almost there, not quite. Today, the boys, they proved to themselves what they're capable of."

Through two frames, Bottineau sophomore goaltender Tyler Olson had seen 28 shots and allowed just two to get by him, a lofty accomplishment against a Dickinson team that averages nearly four goals per game.

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Starting with a score from senior forward Tanner Giese just three minutes and 27 seconds into the final frame, Dickinson put three more past Olson.

After the Midgets dumped the puck into the Braves territory with seven and a half minutes left to play, Olson handled the puck just to the left of the goal. Catching Olson off guard, Dickinson junior forward Joey Pavek zoomed towards him, scooping up the puck. Pavek curled behind the net and deposited the puck in front where Evan Groll was waiting. It took the freshman forward a moment to collect the puck from under his feet, but with Olson sprawled out to the right of the net, Groll still had plenty of time to push it into the open goal.

Nearly three minutes later, the Midgets fooled Olson again.

While slowly moving deeper into the offensive zone, junior defender Peyton Hanson received a perfect pass to the tape from sophomore forward Landon Aman. Although it looked like he didn't put much on it, Hanson sent the puck screaming into the net with a slick little wrister in front.

To begin the contest, the Braves defense was all over Dickinson. In the first, 12 shots found the Bottineau-Rugby netminder, but many didn't have much juice on them as the defenders forced the Midgets to poke the puck on odd angles rather than get a comfortable shot.

Eventually, things gave way and the Midgets (11-5, 5-5 WDA) out-shot the Braves (4-8, 1-7 WDA) 50-12.

"We're not really built for games on back-to-back nights. We played in Hazen-Beulah last night. With the few guys we have, we tend to get a little tired as the weekend wears on. It definitely showed here," Bottineau-Rugby head coach David Hoff said. "Early on at one point, shots were about 9-7, and obviously we got out-shot 41-5 from that point on. You can't do a lot about it. You just got to be as efficient as you can and I didn't think we were."

When the defense finally allowed him a moment to collect the puck, aim and wind up, senior Ryan Bren finally broke through and put the Midgets up 1-0 at the 11:40 mark of the first period.

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"It was just getting confidence after that first goal, of course. Just getting that under our belt" Bren said. "That kind of motivates us. Every team is like that, but definitely that first goal is what go us going."

Dickinson senior goalie Riley Wittenberg made seven of his 11 saves in the first, a few of them cheer-worthy as he stopped a 1-on-1 chance and made an impressive pad save on a wide-angled shot. With just over four minutes left in the game, the Braves dashed Wittenberg's hopes of his first shutout of the year.

Taking advantage of a screen in front of the crease, sophomore forward Ian Amsbaugh let one rip from the top of the circle and beat Wittenberg stick side.

"We got to block shots," Kuntz said. "I'm sad we couldn't have kept that one off the board for Riley because he made some saves when we needed him to, especially early that could have swayed the game one way or the other. We got to go back to work blocking shots. It hurts ... but that's hockey. You got to take one for the team."

After spending the 17 minutes struggling to do so, the Midgets were finally able to make an organized attempt at the net, stringing together a series of shots on multiple occasions in the second. The Midgets pounded Olson to the tune of 16 shots in the period and in an effort to stop the barrage, the Braves iced the puck three times in a matter of two minutes.

At the halfway mark, Jaren Hugelen fired a powerful shot from inside the blue line and it whizzed all the way past the goal line, putting Dickinson up 2-0.

"Bottineau, they're a well-structured, well-coached team. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in just playing the right way and we knew that coming in," Kuntz said. "I told the boys, you just gotta keep digging. You just gotta keep doing things the right way. It's not always going to work out for you, but you keep working, you'll be able to cash in. I thought hard work paid off."

Dickinson 5, Bottineau-Rugby 1

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B 0 0 1 - 1

D 1 1 3 - 5

FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Ryan Bren, 11:40.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, D, Jaren Hugelen (Bren, Evan Groll), 8:27.

THIRD PERIOD: 3, D, Tanner Giese (Brayden Groll, Brayden Urlacher), 3:27. 4, D, E. Groll (Joey Pavek), 9:30. 5, D, Peyton Hanson (Landon Aman), 12:05. 1, B, Ian Amsbaugh (Landon Rosendahl, Matt Olson), 12:57.

SAVES: B, Tyler Olson 11-15-19-45. D, Riley Wittenberg 7-2-2-11.

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