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Room to grow: Holiday tourney presents new challenges for DHS boys hockey

The Dickinson High boys hockey team takes a short break from in-state opponents this week as it readies to host its Dakota Border Battle Holiday Tournament.

Dickinson High senior Kaymen Kitchen, middle, looks to pass during a game against Bismarck Century on Dec. 9 at the West River Ice Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior Kaymen Kitchen, middle, looks to pass during a game against Bismarck Century on Dec. 9 at the West River Ice Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson High boys hockey team takes a short break from in-state opponents this week as it readies to host its Dakota Border Battle Holiday Tournament.

Wednesday through Friday of this week, the West River Ice Center will welcome a pair of South Dakota teams, along with Williston and Hazen-Beulah. Dickinson will face Rapid City twice and Pierre once.

For the Midgets, it presents a new challenge, head coach Dallas Kuntz said, because his team has only played one of those teams before.

"We play the Oahe Pierre Capitals every year, that's the one team we are familiar with," he said. "Our Bantams have played Rapid City's Bantams, and those are good matchups. I expect that to be really good competition for us. ... We're going to go in, concentrate on our game and not so much focus on what they're going to do. We want to build consistency through that."

The Midgets start against Rapid City at 7 p.m. today.

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Seeing new styles of play in this tournament could very well benefit the Midgets after New Year's when they return to play within the West Region.

"The could run different stuff than other teams we're used to," said senior Kaymen Kitchen, "and that could help us out so we're not always seeing the same thing. So we get a little variety."

Kuntz said he wants his team to develop some continuity. The team is 2-2 overall heading into the tournament, but the right mindset and level of play could lead to a successful week.

"We won't know who they are, so I think we'll come out with some fire," said sophomore Ryan Bren. "We can't take them too lightly. We have to take it to them right away."

It's still early in Dickinson's season, so Kuntz sees a lot of opportunity for growth in this tournament.

"We tell our players that if they think too much out there, they'll think themselves into the ground. It'll look like they're skating in mud out there. We just want them to react," Kuntz said. "If you play a team you've never played before, I think there's excitement there because you don't know what to expect. And I don't want them to expect anything from the other team. Let's just go out and execute our game plan and play hockey they way we're capable of. Hopefully three straight games of that, we can find an identity of ourselves and build toward our conference schedule in January."

A winning week could pay dividends once the Midgets return to action within their own state.

"We can't be settled with where we're at right now," Bren said. "We have to keep pushing."

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