The entertainment value of a Bottineau-Rugby hockey ticket far exceeds its monetary value. Even when the Braves lose - and they win more times than not - it's compelling.
In four setbacks, B-R has lit the lamp at a four-goals-per-game clip. That's better than 11 of the state's other 16 teams score a game regardless of outcome. On average, Braves games produce 11.3 combined goals. That's a puck in the net every 4.5 minutes. Not bad for the price of admission.
"It's kind of the way we're built," B-R coach David Hoff said. "We're not overly deep, so it's gonna be tough for us to be in a 3-1, lock-you-down type of hockey game as much as I'd like for that."
Bottineau-Rugby junior forward Luke Amsbaugh (19) is the state’s second-leading scorer with 55 points. His teammate, senior Harrison Aide, is first with 64. Photo courtesy of Lori Gronvold/Pierce County Tribune.
If not for a pair of stud forwards, B-R (10-4 overall, 7-2 West Region) may have been in for a long season. Instead, senior Harrison Aide and junior Luke Amsbaugh have the Braves in fourth place in the West Region standings, 10 points behind first-place Bismarck and just three points back from second-place Minot High's 24.
B-R just smacked the Magicians with a 9-6 home win on Monday. Amsbaugh torched Minot for four goals and an assist while Aide chipped in a hat trick and four helpers. Ho hum, another multi-point game for the pair.
Aide tops the state scoring charts with 64 points and Amsbaugh is second at 55. Both own a state-best 35 goals.
"They're a handful," Minot coach Chad Burckhard said. "They're a one-two punch and you have to know where they're at at all times.
"Obviously," he said with an honest chuckle, "we didn't do a good job of that on Monday."
The lethal duo accounts for 68.6 percent of the Braves' state-best 102 goals. After Aide and Amsbaugh, B-R's next highest scorer is junior forward Noah Grant with eight markers.
"You can look at our season stats and see that we're not overly deep," Hoff said. "If you look at the amount of scoring and the percentage of goals they provide, it's huge for us."
Aide, who has signed a tender with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL, oozes the senior savvy and strength to possess the puck at a high level.
"Harrison is so tough on the puck, he doesn't lose many stick battles or puck battles," Hoff said. "He's tenacious that way."
Amsbaugh, meanwhile, is more of a sniper. He still sees plenty of the puck, but especially "makes the most of his opportunities," his coach said.
"Amsbaugh can finish with the best of them," Burckhard added.
Hoff noted that in B-R's win over Minot, a handful of Braves turned in solid efforts. His team's no two-trick pony.
Still, without Aide and Amsbaugh, the Braves likely wouldn't be in the hunt for a state tournament spot. They allow four goals a game, the sixth-worst in the state.
But they score. Boy, do they ever score.
"In hockey, that's kind of rare to have that kind of a goals against and still compete for wins in the majority of their hockey games at this level," Burckhard said.
Admitted Hoff: "It can be your best friend. It can be your worst friend, as well."
Minot's Love commits to S.D. Mines
The right foot that converted field goals at a 92.3-percent clip over the past two years is not done kicking yet. On Monday, Minot High senior kicker Ben Love made an oral commitment to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Love, a Class A second-team all-state selection in 2012, also made official visits to Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Moorhead.
"It basically just came down to that they had the type of engineering I wanted to do," Love said. "They have really strong academics.
S.D. Mines, located in Rapid City, is in its first year as a Division II school. The Hardrockers went 6-4 as an independent in 2013 and will play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference for the next two years before joining the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference for good in 2016.
Love said coach Stacy Collins, who is 8-12 in his two years with S.D. Mines, places a strong emphasis on special teams, which was a major draw for him.
"I wanted to go somewhere where the coach actually knew about kicking," Love said. "I didn't want to be fighting for practice time."
Love, who also played four years of soccer, began kicking for the Magicians as a freshman. He made all six of his field-goal attempts in 2013, with two measuring more than 40 yards.
"Benny's been a tremendous part of our program," Minot coach Barry Holmen said. "We've been blessed to have one of the best kickers in the state for four years running now. That's certainly helped us win games."
Love plans to redshirt in the fall and said he may also run track for the Hardrockers.
Majettes nearly back to 100 percent
In a six-day span, the Minot High girls basketball team (6-4 overall, 4-3 West Region) had both its coach and a starter sidelined. Next week, they expect to return to 100 percent.
Sixth-year coach Todd Magnuson missed two weeks due to a heart condition and junior wing McKale Duttenhefer sat out last week after spraining her right anterior cruciate ligament.
Both were involved in practice Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm feeling good. I had my second day of cardiac rehab today," Magnuson said. "They got me on the treadmill, got me on the bike and things are good. They liked what they saw with my heart stuff, so I'm a pretty happy camper. But I need to get back to coaching."
Magnuson returned to assist at practice Monday, but did not travel with the team to its game at Williston on Tuesday, a 58-49 win. He will stay home for the Majettes' 7:30 game tonight at Jamestown before taking over full duties next week.
Duttenhefer, however, will return to the lineup against the Blue Jays (4-5, 3-3). She is averaging 12.3 points per game, good for second on the team.
"We got the call today that she's been cleared to play, but she's gonna play limited minutes," Magnuson said. "She's not going to be playing a full-fledged game."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.