HS Hockey: Last season motivated Mandan's upperclassmen

The Mandan boys hockey team tallied nine goals in a blowout season-opening win against Hazen-Beulah.

But the road to a potential state tournament berth only gets harder from here.

The upperclassmen for Mandan hockey remember last season well.

"We didn't come out the way we wanted to," senior Quinn Halstengard said. "We didn't make state, but I thought we had a good run."

But the season was cut short at the hands of Dickinson.

"They knocked us out of state my sophomore year and junior year, so those games are always huge to me against Dickinson," Halstengard said.

To make a better run, the team will have to hope 13 new sophomores can smoothly make the jump from youth levels to varsity.

"Youth hockey almost everybody plays," head coach Leif Mattson said. "You pay to play in a way. Here we're in a different culture. We're here to compete."

And to adjust to the culture, Mattson says the young guys will probably rotate between JV and varsity.

"I think we have to with the underclassmen, just because--to get them experience and get their feet wet," Mattson said.

A silver lining is Mattson has coached the youth levels before, so he already knows a little bit about the new players.

"Not many other coaches at this level have had that opportunity," Mattson said.

And so far, the younger guys have exceeded expectations.

"They're doing pretty good," Mattson said. "They're picking up on everything fast--the speed and stuff," Halstengard said. "We just got to get them used to hitting and stuff like that."

On Tuesday, the Braves will be at last year's WDA runners-up Minot.

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