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Heath Hotzler, Published February 26 2009

New coach, same success for Fargo South boys hockey team

David Benson couldn’t be happier with his first season as coach of the Fargo South boys hockey team.

With the Bruins coming off 18 seasons and three state titles under Dean Wilson, Benson stepped onto the bench and helped the team capture the East Region regular-season and postseason titles.

South will take on Bismarck Century at 6:30 p.m. today in the first round of the North Dakota state boys hockey tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Talk about a smooth transition.

“These guys came in with a great attitude,” said Benson, who helped shape many of the current Bruin players as the Fargo Flyers Bantam A coach from 2002-2005. “… They believed. That comes from a good relationship that we had in the past.”

There were early signs that Benson’s first season could be special.

Junior goaltender Scott Buchholz stopped 37 shots in the season opener to help the Bruins (21-2-1) to a 2-2 tie against rival Moorhead. South has beaten Moorhead just twice in the last 19 years.

Then the Bruins held on for a 4-3 victory against White Bear Lake.

South was unbeaten in its first six games, until Bismarck beat them 5-2 at the Urban Plains Center with backup goaltender Kyle Jandro in net. Bismarck is the West’s top seed at state this season.

“Nobody really expects this going into the season,” said senior David Burdick, who is one of three Bruins to earn all-conference honors this year. “We just work hard all the time. I guess it just comes to us.”

South reeled off 13 straight wins before a loss to Grand Forks Central in the regular season finale.

Buchholz led all goaltenders in the state with a 1.71 goals against average. Junior forward Peter Orson finished third in the state in scoring with 49 points. He was one of only 11 players in the state with 41 or more points.

Burdick said Wilson’s presence is still felt this season in the Bruins’ locker room.

Wilson sometimes calls South players following a victory.

Should South finish with a state crown, Burdick and Benson said Wilson will be part of the celebration.

“He built this legacy,” Burdick said. “He’s still around, guys know it. He still loves us and treats us like family, too.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com