By Jason Shoot
Don't let Levi Briese fool you.
He may have visions of ordering food from gorgeous waitresses from a certain nationwide restaurant chain, but before he can enjoy that he is all about taking care of business this week.
Briese and his Team Montana teammates are headed to the Rocky Mountain Regional bantam hockey tournament set for March 15-18 in Westminster, Colo.
"Every time we go to regionals we make it a habit to go to Hooters," Briese said, almost a little too excitedly. "But we usually do that after we're done with the tournament."
The 15-year-old right wing is hoping that trip will occur much later rather than sooner.
"This is my third year playing for Team Montana," Briese said, "and the last two years we've faced the same teams in the tournament that we're playing this year. They're all tough but it's just a matter of going down and showing up to play."
Briese has an edge few other hockey players in his age group can take advantage of being a bigger sophomore in a division full of athletes younger than he is.
"I get in the weight room every day," the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Briese said. "It's the key to any athletics."
Briese believes his team has as great a chance as any to secure a regional tournament championship.
"In the peewee tournament we were playing against Colorado and ahead of them by two goals in the third period and lost. Colorado ended up winning the region, went to the national title game and lost in overtime.
"We definitely have the potential."
Competing in a brutal, punishing sport like hockey with one team is tough enough, but 13-year-old Josh Morse is balancing playing time with his local peewee team AND Team Montana.
Add to that the fact that the limited number of teams in Montana leaves Morse and his teammates facing older, stronger bantam competition, the Havre youngster is a little beat up.
"It gets to be a lot," he said, noting he's been playing for both teams since November.
Morse will get little sympathy this week when he and Team Montana travel to Westminster, Colo., to compete in the Rocky Mountain Regional peewee hockey tournament March 15-18.
Hockey is not all about getting checked into the boards and getting your skates hooked out from under you, and Morse has found alleviation in the friendships he's developed.
His front-line mates, Shawn Briceno and Josh Rhynard, are his two best friends and help make the game easier and more enjoyable.
"My line is mostly people I hang out with," Morse said. "You make lots of new friends."
Morse believes he and his Team Montana teammates have faced enough stiff competition this year that will certainly benefit the team at the regional tournament.
"We're ready to go," he said. "(Facing the older athletes) helps a lot because in the age group above us (the athletes) really grow. Those games help us get better physically and mentally."