CLEVELAND, OH – We continue our look back on the top sports stories of 2017 out on the ice, where the Missoula Bruins high school hockey team skated to the nationals.
The Missoula team ended their regular season at the state championship against Billings, a match the Bruins won 3-0. That victory earned them a spot at the USA Hockey Division 2 National Championships in Cleveland.
The Bruins quickly proved themselves on the national stage, destroying Northwest Arkansas 10-0. Then Wando, South Carolina, 2-1. Then again with Jackson Hole Wyoming, 4-1.
That pushed the Bruins into the quarterfinals, where they dominated Chicago and Omaha both in the same day. After that, unbelievably to the team, the Bruins were vying for the title against Frisco, Texas. But they fell short.
Frisco served Missoula its first loss in some time, but the Bruins had made history: they had advanced further than any Montana team had ever gone at the National Championships.
“My expectations going to Nationals were just like hopefully make it out of pool play, make it to the quarterfinals maybe. If you would have told me that we could take second, I really wouldn’t have believed you,” said Bruins left wing Austin Leadbetter.
“It was just an amazing experience to be able to play for a game that kind of big,” said Bruins center/right wing Dalton Roeser. “Like I’ve never played for something that big in my life, and it was like a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement.”