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WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Pohlkamp is Warriors' big shooter

Matt Pohlkamp’s nickname fits him as a hockey player, but not as a person.

“Shooter” is one of the top snipers on the Brainerd Warriors boys hockey team that is off to a 10-2-0 start. If the puck is on his stick the humble forward is a threat to bury the puck in the back of the opposing net.

“My mom started calling me that at home,” Pohlkamp said. “My buddies would come over, they would hear it from her, then everyone started saying it.

“She just liked it. I always ask her for a story behind it but she doesn’t have one.”

Through 12 games Pohlkamp, who has been offered, and has verbally accepted, a scholarship to play for Bowling Green next season, is the Warriors’ second-leading scorer with 15 goals and 17 assists, trailing only Mitch McLain’s 38 points.

“I expected a lot,” Pohlkamp said of this season. “I have some great teammates. They’re creating a lot of plays, making it easy for me.”

He frequently plays on a line with McLain and Aaron Rich but recently has been shifted to play with sophomores Logan Rivard and Cole Smith.

“I’m with Smith and Rivard now, for the next game (Thursday night at River Lakes),” Pohlkamp said. “Logan’s really a crafty player. He uses space well, and makes good passes. Cole is a hard-pounding forward who outworks everyone out there. He plays a lot of body, creates turnovers, and is playing well.”

So is Pohlkamp. He recorded his third hat trick of the season in a 7-3 win over Fargo Davies in the Jason Stadstad Hockey Classic.

“We were playing at the University of North Dakota arena,” Pohlkamp said. “I was pretty excited to play there. I got some nice passes from Rich and Mitch, nice setups. It was just a good game. I had some good opportunities.”

Pohlkamp attributes much of his success to attending Minnesota Hockey Camps last summer and playing for the North Team in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League this fall. Not only does he possess a powerful shot. He’s also one of the team’s top skaters.

“Minnesota Hockey Camps, the Grillo family, going there all summer made a big difference for me,” Pohlkamp said. “It’s a good hockey camp. Playing Elite in the fall helps develop your skills and hockey sense.”

Warriors coach Jim Archibald said Pohlkamp’s “work ethic and effort has put him into the upper class of high school hockey players in the state.”

“I think not only what he does on the ice but what he does off the ice has had a huge impact on his success this year,” Archibald added. “He’s what we refer to as a silent leader. Instead of talking about what should be done he goes out and leads by example.

“He’s just a great young man. His commitment and attitude makes coaching him very easy.”

Archibald agrees that Pohlkamp’s improvement can be attributed to attending MHC and playing in the Elite league.

“His strength from his offseason training has increased and obviously when you watch him play he’s noticeable every shift he’s on the ice,” Archibald said.

Pohlkamp is on the ice as often as possible, including power plays and when Brainerd is short-handed.

“We use him in all situations, depending on the game and the circumstances,” Archibald said. “He’s going to be a major factor in the success of the team in the last half of the season.”

Other notable efforts:

• Madison Grausam, gymnastics, won three events and the all-around title against Alexandria.

• Riley Kline, boys basketball, scored 20 points against North St. Paul.

• Tyler Schneider, swimming, won two events in the Brainerd Invite.

• Justin Kuglin, swimming, won two events against Willmar.