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Heath Hotzler, Published December 11 2008

North has another contender

Fargo North girls hockey coach Dave Bjugson has heard several times in his seven years with the team that the Spartans are ready to go from state title contender to rebuilding mode.

North couldn’t possibly be strong year-after-year with major losses to graduation, the skeptics have said.

But here we are again. It’s a week into the new season and the defending state champions are undefeated at 4-0, and show no signs of slowing down despite losing the biggest graduating class of Bjugson’s tenure.

What?

“I think we’ve pretty much continued on the same path (as last season),” Bjugson said. “Our expectations are the same every year. We want to play in the state title game and win it.”

To help the Spartans remember the lofty expectations, Bjugson borrowed a motivational slogan from major-college football giant Florida State.

“We have a slogan on the front of our practice jerseys,” Bjugson said. “ ‘The best get better, the rest get beaten.’ We preach it so (winning) doesn’t get to be old hat. We wanted to make sure they realize there are high expectations to uphold.”

The Spartans have not forgotten.

North has scored 26 goals in four games, while allowing only five.

The offense has been led by the team’s “baby blue” line, the grouping of sophomores Haley Olmstead, Emily Dahl and Maddie Hieb. The trio has been called the “baby blues” since they were assigned blue practice jerseys when they became a line as eighth-graders.

The second line of Mara Teschendorf, Alyssa Boetel and Jordan Brenneman has made sure there has been no offensive drop off when they hit the ice.

“We’ve been generating a lot of shots,” Bjugson said. “And we’ve been pretty good in the defensive zone all the time.”

Teschendorf, a freshman who scored the winning goal in last year’s state title game, leads the team with four goals.

North will take on rival Fargo South (4-1) at 5:15 p.m. Friday at the Urban Plains Center.

The Bruins tied with North last season. It was the Spartans only blemish during North Dakota play.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on South the last couple of games,” Bjugson said. “It looks like they are playing some good hockey.”

Odds and ends

Fargo South’s Tarin Lachowitzer recently finished 50th at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. The race, which features some of the top cross country runners in the country, had 197 participants. … West Fargo senior Jordan Olstad leads all metro boys hockey teams with eight points through the first week. Olstad has five goals and three assists in four games. … Fargo South girls hockey freshman forward Lindsay Nagel is second in the state with six goals. Bismarck sophomore Maddy Gendreau leads North Dakota with seven goals.

Readers can reach Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562 or hhotzler@forumcomm.com. Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com