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Journal-Press Internet Sports & School - April 19, 2018
Rob LaPlante

Journal-Press Sports Editor Rob LaPlante may be reached by phone at 763-682-1221 or click here to email him



Habisch, Morningstar help Section 8 win title

Bison teammates compete in HP Spring Festival 

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By Rob LaPlante

Sports Editor

Bison girls' hockey teammates Jada Habisch and Mya Morningstar helped lead the Section 8 Girls-16 and under team to a first-place finish in Phase Two of the CCM High Performance Spring Festival last weekend at Plymouth Ice Center.

High school players from Section 8 in Class A and AA combined to post a perfect 3-0 mark over a snowy three-day tournament that featured eight teams made up of 16 total sections.

"It's fun, because on every team I'm playing against I know someone from my summer team," Habisch said. "This is the first time we've played with our section, instead of our conference. It gets pretty aggressive. You are always trying to do your best, but knowing the other girls, you're pushing to do your best."

Habisch and Morningstar each had an assist in leading Section 8 to a 10-1 blowout over Section 3 in their opening game last Friday.

"It's always nice to have someone from your hometown playing with you," said Habisch, referring to Morningstar, who had two assists in 26 games as a freshman defender this past season for the Bison.

Habisch led Buffalo with 33 goals and 48 points as a sophomore forward.

Neither player had a hand offensively in Section 8's two other wins. They advanced to Sunday's championship game thanks to a 4-2 win last Saturday over Section 6.

Thief River Falls' Shelby Breiland gave Section 8 a 2-1 lead early in the second half. Unlike the high school rules where teams play three 17 minutes periods, last weekend's festival is played in two 24-minute halves.

Roseau's Kayla Santl broke a 2-2 tie, scoring a pair of goals in the final two minutes for Section 8.

No stranger to playing Roseau in past years in Section 8AA, Habisch said it was a nice change of pace playing with girls she normally is matching up against.

"It's nice playing with section girls, particularly those northern girls," Habisch said. "They typically play a lot more aggressive, so it's nice to have them on your side."

She also had a chance for part of the weekend to play on the same line as North Wright County's Kenzie Bourgerie, who ended the tournament with three goals and three assists, including a hat trick in the opening win over Section 3.

Bourgerie added two assists in Section 8's 3-0 win on Sunday over Section 7.

"I love playing with her," said Habisch, on playing with Bourgerie instead of against as Mississippi 8 rivals. "I've known her for so many years, so this isn't my first time playing with her. She's a great player."

Habisch and Bourgerie were two of 54 skaters who were chosen from last weekend's festival to participate in phase three's CCM HP Final 54 this April 20-22 in Vadnais Heights. 

Both players will skate for the Girls-16 Team White. Habisch is hopeful of making her second consecutive USA Hockey Select Player Development Camp.



Six Bison skaters compete in Spring Festival

Braccini, Mueller standout for Section 8 Boys-17 squad

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By Rob LaPlante

Sports Editor

Phase two of the 2018 Boys-17 CCM High Performance League included five skaters from last season's Bison boys' hockey team.

There are four phases to each CCM HP Program. Phase one gathers each of the eight Minnesota High School Boys' Hockey Sections (A and AA) to conduct tryouts in their section. Players selected to tryout are nominated by their high school coaches.

Phase two took place last weekend with teams competing in three games against top players from other sections in their age level at Plymouth Ice Center.

Joe McNamara, Joe Carothers, Jake Braccini, Tyler Braccini, and Nathan Mueller were all selected from a tryout session and performed for the Section 8 Boys-17 team that finished last weekend's Spring Festival in Plymouth with a 1-2 tournament record.

Phase three narrows down the top-54 players at each age level from the Spring Festival to be selected to compete at the CCM High Performance Final 54 Festival this April 20-22 at Plymouth Ice Center.

Phase four selects players based on performance to participate in the USA Hockey Boys 16/17 Player Development Camps in New York. Jake Braccini is hopeful of his second straight roster spot for the US Development Camp. A year ago he was part of the Select-16s that performed in Buffalo, New York.

Braccini's shot of making a second consecutive U.S. Development Camp appeared pretty good after posting four goals and one assist in three games for Section 8.

Braccini tallied his team's only two goals in a 4-2 opening-round loss last Friday to Section 6.

Assisting on Braccini's second goal, which gave Section 8 a 2-1 lead was McNamara. Nathan Mueller allowed just one goal on seven shots in his 24 minutes between the pipes.

With Mueller subbed for the second half for Moorhead's Hudson Hodges, Section 6 scored three unanswered goals, including two from Mason Nevers of Edina, a University of Minnesota commit and future college teammate of Braccini.

Nevers would end the tournament scoring three goals and seven points in leading Section 6 to a festival championship.

"We pretty much knew all the good guys that are committed to schools over there," said Tyler Braccini, on their loss to Section 6. "We thought it would be a close game. Nathan did a good job and kept us in it."

Mueller didn't allow a goal on six shots in 24 minutes in relief in last Saturday's 5-1 victory over Section 1.

Section 8 grabbed a 4-0 lead on a pair of goals by Jake Braccini and St. Michael-Albertville's Luc Laylin. Braccini added an assist at 22:56 of the second half on a goal by Owen Meeker of Warroad.

Bison players were shutout offensively in Sunday's 3-1 loss in the fifth-place game against Section 2.

The teams skated to a 0-0 tie after the first 24 minutes of play. Mueller allowed no goals on 16 shots. For the tourney, Mueller stopped 28 of 29 shots over 72 minutes of action.

Section 8 led 1-0 on a goal by Moorhead's Cullen Gess, but Section 2 scored three unanswered goals in the game's final 11 minutes.

One of the highlights over the weekend for Buffalo players was the chance to skate on the same team with some of their biggest section rivals.

"I think it's pretty cool," Jake Braccini said. "It's guys you play against all the time, and you come down here and you get a feel for playing with them a little bit."

When asked how competitive the HP Spring Festival is, both Braccinis echoed the same words.

"I think it's both competitive and skill," Jake and Tyler said. "It's guys fighting for a spot. At the same time, being together on a team with some good players is kind of cool."

As for wearing the same color jersey as five of their other teammates, Jake said it's a positive sign for Buffalo hockey.

"You get the guys from your team down here and you know you have some good guys coming back, especially for next season," Jake said.


HP Boys 16

Buffalo had a sixth member of last season's team perform for the Section 8 Boys-16 squad that finished the three-day festival 0-3.

Braun, a junior varsity forward a year ago for the Bison, did not record a point over the weekend.

The CCM High Performance League is directed by longtime former Bison Head Coach Mike MacMillan.


Final 54

Jake Braccini and Mueller were both named to the Boys-17 Final 54 roster and will compete for Team White this weekend at Plymouth Ice Center. Also making the Final 54 was STMA's Luc Laylin, who will play for Boys-17 Team Blue.



Buffalo soccer, tennis, basketball stars commit

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Buffalo High School seniors (left-right): Sydney Johnson, Mya Lubben, Bailee Larson, and Noah Raisanen proudly wear their future college shirts during a school gathering on Wednesday, April 11 for National Signing Day. Johnson is a women's soccer commit at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. Lubben is a women's tennis commit at Winona State University. Larson is a women's basketball commit at Concordia College in Moorhead. Raisanen is a men's soccer commit at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan. The four joined nine other classmates that committed last fall. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)




BHS students earn Best In Site

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Almost 200 kids from Buffalo High School participated in the Section 2AA Solo and Ensemble Contest last Friday, April 13 at BHS.

Twelve different judges listened to kids throughout the afternoon and evening and were tasked with given each entry both verbal and written feedback.

"There were many incredible performances throughout the day," said BHS Band Director Scott Rabehl.

All 129 BHS entries received at least an Excellent Rating. A total of 87 of BHS students received the highest rating of Superior. At the end of the evening, each judge identified the most outstanding musical event they heard throughout the day and nine of the 12 judges selected BHS musicians for this recognition.

Section 2AA: Solo & Small Ensembles

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Receiving "Best In Site" Awards for Solo and Small Ensembles pictured above are (front row, left-right): Naomi Curran (Clarinet Solo), Sophia Stommen (Violin Solo), Maggie Hermanson (Clarinet Solo); (back row, left-right): Sara Burke (Alto Solo), Nick Immel (Clarinet Solo), Jesse Meyer (Tenor Solo & Barbershop Quartet), Eithan Warne (Barbershop Quartet), Noah Raisenen (Barbershop Quartet), and Jacob Braun (Barbershop Quartet). (Submitted photos)

Section 2AA: Jazz I

Receiving a "Best In Site" Award was BHS Jazz I. Pictured (front row, left-right): Christian Snyder, Jennifer Prigge, Emma Weber, Larissa Lynch, Jonah Forsyth, Mitchell Rabehl; (second row, left-right): Serena Tupper, Naomi Curran; (third row, left-right): Peter Deneen, Emma Forcier, Grayson Wubben, Adam Steinbach, Tucker MacCallum; (back row, left-right): Nick Immel, Thomas Bazan, Luke Steinbach, and Eric Braun. Not pictured: Mary Oehlke, Sigourney Wubben, and Luke

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Section 2AA: BHS Singers

Receiving a "Best In Site" Award were BHS Singers. Pictured (front row, left-right): Emilee Feldman, Ciarra Fagerlie, Caitlin Hutchcraft, Grace Happe; (second row, left-right): Emily Kern, Mya Lubben, Alexis Nichols; (third row, left-right): Noah Raisenan, Sarah Burke, Madelyn Backes, Ian Obaru, Jacob Braun, Ian Pappenfus; (back row, left-right): Nathan Beal, Max Menzemer, Jesse Meyer, and Eithan Warne.



BHS dips into Classics

'An Ideal Husband' offers comedy, political satire

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By Rob LaPlante

Sports editor

Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," dates back to the 19th century – 1895 to be exact.

Fast forward 123 years and Wilde's comedic stage play lives on as Buffalo High School students will enact in the first of three performances of this year's spring play, starting Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

Co-Directors Debb Bestland and Nick Lostetter chose this particular play to explore beyond their typical Broadway hits and dip into the classics.

"Classics typically carry timeless themes, which allow them to make statements in each new generation," Bestland said. "'An Ideal Husband' does just that by pointing out that we are all flawed and a little understanding of that can go a long way."

Wilde's story takes place in London over the course of 24 hours. It revolves around blackmail and political corruption and touches on the themes of public and private honor.

There are many starring roles for this year's play, which include the married couple of Mason Schmidt and Tara Gravelle, both seniors making their first attempt in lead roles.

Schmidt plays Sir Robert Chiltern, a well-off government official who owes his success and fortune to secret scandal. Chiltern's wife, Lady Gertrude Chiltern, played by Gravelle, is a woman of great Greek beauty who is active in her husband's career. She worships her ideal husband and cannot believe the revelation of his secret past."

A veteran of four years in the BHS Theater and Music Department, Gravelle is excited for the new challenge of landing her first starring role.

"I joined in ninth grade in tech crew, and my sophomore year I got a minor role in the spring play ('A Midsummer Night's Dream')," explained Gravelle, who plans on attending the University of Minnesota next fall to pursue film making or creative writing. "Ever since then, it's kind of like working yourself up and building your own character development. I really enjoy being one of the leads, it's been a lot of fun."

Like many of the lead actors and actresses in this play, six weeks of preparation goes by fast, particularly when one of those weeks is an off week due to spring break.

Gravelle and Schmidt used part of their week off rehearsing some of the couple's more intimate scenes. 

"Just going away for a little while and having to come back to it has been a little bit of a challenge," said Gravelle, on cast members struggling to remember lines on the second to final week of rehearsals. "We've been working really hard though. It looked a little bumpy coming back, but we're going to get it. I know we will."

This is Schmidt's third year as a theater student at BHS. His sophomore year he performed a minor role in the fall play "The White Snake," co-directed by Bestland and Amy Sparks.

Schmidt and Gravelle are two of nine students remaining from the cast of that play. The others include: Seamus Filkins, Patrick Stonecipher, Noah Schottler, Amanda Krinke, Sophia Collova, Sam Twardy, and Emily Kern.

"That was the first show I was ever in," said Schmidt, who plans on majoring in film productions starting next fall at Augsburg University. "I had three lines and probably 20 words throughout the entire show."

Schmidt remembers what it was like to be a young actor on stage and watch others struggle with their roles.

"Sitting in rehearsals back then and the leads not knowing their lines was very frustrating – it's like know your damn lines," Schmidt said. "Now I'm the one with all the lines and I'm like, ugh, how do I do all of this right now? How do I find time to memorize them all and know which part and when I'm supposed to say this? It's stressful."

Schmidt's character is the center-piece based on his near-perfect life with his wife (Gravelle), which becomes threatened when Mrs. Cheveley (Kern) enters the picture with some damaging news of his past.

When asked to best describe his character, Schmidt says he is far from what he is in real life.

"It's kind of hard to relate to him, because he's kind of a sleazeball in a way. I'd like to think I'm not a sleazeball. Sure, he did this dishonorable thing, but he's trying to do the right thing," Schmidt said. "He's very comedic without knowing he's comedic. It's like he's oblivious to everything that's happening. He will say something and be so emotional and so over dramatic about it."

What both directors hope the audience takes away from the comedic political satire is that nobody is perfect.

"Mr. Lostetter and I hope the audience will be able to laugh and enjoy themselves, at the same time, remembering that we all have our flaws," Bestland said. "The ideal spouse is one who remembers nobody is perfect."

Dressed in formal attire (provided by the Costume Shoppe in Maple Lake) throughout the play, Bestland and Lostetter kept most the play a classic setting, yet adding its own twist to the set.

"This was written in the 1890s and much of it uses metaphors slightly different, not to mention some words which mean different things in our generation," Bestland said. "I love the challenge of trying to bring the language into our generation and make it clear to our audience. Students have had to wrestle with language and hidden humor." 

Gravelle says it's been fun researching the Victorian era, and learning some of the different terms used back then.

 "We had looked up what some of the things meant," she said. "There's a line in the play where they are talking about yellow books and blue books. We're all like, 'what does that even mean?' We found out blue books were more like almanacs and yellow books were more about women's books, sort of like some adult themes you can imagine today."


Passing the baton

Thursday's opening play will be followed up with two more, starting Friday, April 20 and concluding Saturday, April 21. All three shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Knowing this is his first and most likely his last lead role, Schmidt hopes this year's underclassmen look up to him, as he once did when he was a young aspiring actor.

"I've always grown up having such amazing seniors around me," Schmidt said. "We've always had better upperclassmen. It's always felt like we're going to be so awesome because we have this person and this person. Now they are all gone and it's like, oh crap, now I'm the senior.

"It's reassuring knowing we have a young cast, because I know they are all great, especially the sophomores, and when they get to be seniors, they are going to have an amazing year."


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