Bantam A's playing well, but drop three close games
The Detroit Lakes Bantam A hockey team has had a thrilling start to their young season, but has yet to get a win.
With all kinds of controversy thrown at them to start the year, positive attitudes never fail to show up at the rink.
"I've never seen a group of kids with this much heart" said head coach Ben Noah, "No matter what situation they are in, they always seem to keep fighting."
The Bantam A's opened up its season playing host to the Hutchinson Tigers, losing 7-6 in overtime.
DL jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by second year Bantam Sam Velde, as he buried a nice pass from first year forward Casey Paskey.
Just as things were looking promising, DL took a huge hit, losing their top defenseman and one of the team leaders to a fractured wrist midway through the first period.
"Austin Rusness is one of those guys that the team feeds off of," Noah said. "It was tough to see him go down, but good teams have to learn to deal with anything."
After trailing 2-1 going into the second period, DL's Dillon Bremseth showed his strength blasting a shot past the Tiger's goalie.
DL showed the effects of being short benched for the rest of the period and took a 6-3 deficit into the third.
DL's top scorer Alex Ziegler quickly cut the lead to two after scoring under a minute into the third.
That was followed up by a hard working goal by DL's Taylor Magnuson to pull within 1.
DL completed the comeback late in the game, as Ziegler skated out of the corner and beat the tender far side to record his second goal of the game.
DL had its chances to win but came up short losing 7-6 in overtime.
In game two, DL hosted the Fargo Raiders in a very intense third period.
DL came out flat in the first period, but goaltender Brett Nephew, in his first ever start at the Bantam level, kept the game in reach.
"Brett stepped up big, showing that he is more than ready to play at this level," said Noah.
Trailing 2-0 in the second, DL's power play knotted its first point of the season on some nice passing and a gorgeous shot by Isaac Fondrick, putting DL back in the game.
After gaining some momentum, DL was all over Fargo for the next 10 minutes.
DL's Kyle Herrmann finished off a pass from Ziegler to tie it at two.
Fargo then fought back to score late in the second.
Once again DL trailed going into the third period. The score held up at 3-2 until the fireworks hit with 3:05 remaining in the game.
Ziegler showed his leadership again, during a penalty kill when he grabbed the puck in his own end, flew passed the Raider's defense and snuck one past Fargo's goalie to tie the game at three.
Just 25 seconds later, still shorthanded, Herrmann saw Ziegler in front, slid a pass on his tape and Ziegler finished.
DL found themselves up 4-3 with 2:40 left to play.
Fargo took advantage of a minor let down from DL, which proved to be a major one.
Fargo scored three unanswered goals in the next 1:36 to take a 6-4 lead.
"It was an emotional rollercoaster," Noah said. "You can't let up for a second or that's what will happen. We have to learn to bury teams when we get the chance."
Velde scored late to pull within one, but the DL Bantam A's came up short again, losing 6-5.
DL traveled to Alexandria, with Rusness still injured and a couple others out, DL had to play this game with just eight skaters.
Alexandria, with more than double the amount of players that DL had, took advantage of that jumping out to a 3-0 lead.
Ziegler scored a big goal late in the first to cut the lead to 2 at the first intermission. That was when DL took over the game.
With tough defense lead by DL's Chris Anderson, Alexandria was held to just eight shots the remainder of the game.
DL's offense was clicking.
Controlling the play in the offensive zone and peppering Alexandria's goalie.
Herrmann scored a breakaway goal to pull within one early in the third, but Alexandria struck back 30 seconds later.
Ziegler scored his second and sixth goal in three games, on a nice feed from Herrmann.
Again Alexandria answered. DL kept working, Herrmann drew a penalty shot and rose to the occasion, pulling DL within one on a crafty move with just under four minutes to go.
DL never quit fighting, but just couldn't tie it with their many opportunities, outshooting their opponent 36-16, falling once again by a goal 5-4.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way these guys have responded" said Noah. "There is no telling what this group is capable of when we get everyone back."
The Detroit Lakes Bantam A's are 0-3 to start the year but are missing a key part to their team. Second year forward Connor Collins has not played a game yet.
"Connor is a difference maker," the DL coach added. "He is a goal a game type of guy.
Collins is expected to return to the lineup in the near future.
DL has been getting good play from first year forward Braedon Householder.
The Detroit Lakes Bantam A's have an upcoming tournament in Moorhead December 4th-6th.