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Big First Quarter Powers Braves Past Vikings

James Clayton - Bountiful BravesThe Bountiful Braves went head-to-head with Pleasant Grove under the lights at Viking Stadium on a chilly Monday night.  After a hard-fought battle and a slew of penalties, the Braves came away with a big win by using a superb ride, Jace Thomas dominating at the face-off X, and having seven different players score in the first quarter.
“We started strong and it carried us though the game,” said Bountiful head coach Marty Wescott, “they fought back, but we were able to answer and hang on at the end.”
Both offenses started strong and showed that they came to play.  The Braves’ Chandler Wescott  kicked things off with a circle dodge to score, and Viking middie Chad Madsen responded by dodging from behind the goal for the man-up score.  After another Pleasant Grove score, Bountiful went on an impressive six-goal run that included a man-up goal, a Jess Parry coast-to-coast clear and score with a longpole, and six different Braves getting on the board to end quarter one with a 7-2 advantage.
After committing two quick penalties, the Vikings looked like they would fall further behind, but the PG man-down unit held strong and killed both penalties.  The Viking offense then started to dig out of the five-goal hole with back-to-back goals and cutting into the lead, 7-4.  Pleasant Grove looked to continue their run with another man-up opportunity, but the Bountiful defense took the ball away and moved it quickly to junior attack Michael Cheney who lost his defender and scored the shorthanded goal.  Another penalty gave the Vikings a chance to learn from their previous mistake, and they did when Chad Madsen sent high heat to the top corner for the score, cutting the lead to three, 8-5.
Bountiful extended their lead early in the third quarter when middie Jace Thomas ripped a fantastic bounce shot that hit two pipes before finding the back of the net.  Pleasant Grove showed they had Viking spirit and pushed back, working the transition for two fast-break goals and completing the three-goal run when junior middie McKay Daniel caught and finished on the crease and bringing the Vikings within a single goal.  But the Braves would answer with two goals of their own to close out the quarter, putting them up 11-8.
In the fourth quarter, things got sloppy and physical.  After some back-and-forth play and some penalties, PG nabbed a man-up goal on a Jacob Windley catch n’ shoot.  The Vikings continued to pepper Bountiful keeper Dalon Hampshire, but the Braves’ goalie turned everything away, including two one-on-one opportunities on the doorstep.  A Viking penalty ended Pleasant Grove’s comeback bid and Bountiful’s Brock Jeppesen netted the man-up goal.  A late PG goal would bring the Vikings within two, but there just wasn’t enough time left on the clock for the Vikings to pull off a comeback and the game ended 12-10.
Coach Wescott said of winning the close battle “I was happy with our energy.  I thought we handled the ball well.  We’ve lacked confidence this season and it’s good to see the level we can play at.  Hopefully we can continue with that momentum.  [When you play Pleasant Grove] you always expect a good game.  They could have rolled over but they didn’t, they fought back.”
Bountiful (6-6, 2-2) will face Timpanogos on Wednesday, and Pleasant Grove (6-7, 3-2) has a quick turnaround against Riverton on Tuesday.

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