BISMARCK, N.D. — The Mandan Braves are entering their second season under Matt WInkle with expectations on the rise.

After falling in a state qualifier to end the 2022 season, the Braves are leaning on a group of seniors that have grown up sharing the ice to lead the program back to a top three finish in the WDA and return to the state tournament.

“It’s special when you have kids playing together their whole lives,” head coach Matt Winle says. “They come up with a bond, and they get on the ice, and it’s just that reconnection. It’s not a struggle to get them to actually find that connection to begin with. It’s their team. We can give them a system and can coach them, but it’s what they want to get out of it.”

“Most of us have played together our whole lives, so we just know where we’re going to be on the ice, and we know each other really well,” senior Tate Olson adds. “We just want to make it the best that we can, have the most fun we can.”

The Braves path to the state tourney begins on November 21st when they open the season on the road against Hazen-Beulah. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. central time.