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WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Eighth-grader plays like scrappy veteran

Devin Annable may only be an eighth-grader, and a first-year adapted floor hockey player, but he’s one of the scrappiest players the Brainerd Warriors have on the roster.

With about five minutes remaining in Saturday’s consolation championship game against Rochester, Annable was injured and had to leave the game. Demonstrating his resolve, Annable returned to score the game-winner in overtime, giving Brainerd a 5-4 victory.

“He was just physically beat up,” Warriors coach Todd Person said. “Being he plays center, and works as hard as he does, he has a tendency to get hit quite a bit.

“He had bruises all over his hands, legs, and arms. He took a hit from a girl on the other team and cracked his hip pretty hard, but he came back after that and was able to win the game.”

Annable’s goal was set up by teammate Jake Kretzman.

“Jake passed to me,” Annable said. “I shot it off the back wheel, the outside wheel, and it went in the hole. I was happy and excited.”

Annable’s game-winner helped him get selected to the Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team. He scored eight goals and added one assist at state but never dreamed he would make the all-tournament team.

“I thought it was going to be Austin,” Devin said of his brother and teammate, Austin Annable. “When I heard ‘Devin Annable’ I got so excited.”

Devin finished the season with 16 goals and seven assists. Person called him “probably one of the hardest workers all year on the team.” Person said Annable worked on his shot with assistant coach Todd Sanford, coming in before practice and firing pucks against the gym wall.

“Austin has an amazing shot,” Person said. “He throws it in from the defensive zone through the whole floor. Devin wanted to shoot like that, so coach Sanford worked with him on getting the puck up in the air. He was missing the net to the right. Toward the end of the year things started to click for him.

“He broke the blade on his stick. When we replaced it he had a harder, plastic blade that was more rigid. That helped with his accuracy. He was getting the puck up in the air and hitting open spots in the net.

“He fights for everything. On his overtime score it was just him in front of the goalie, fighting and staying with it until it finally went in.”

Helping Devin this year was the fact that brothers Austin and Harlee were also members of the team. It allowed Devin to feel comfortable almost immediately at the varsity level.

“I feel like part of the team with my brothers,” he said.

The Warriors will graduate Anna Wahl, Richard Volkmuth, Kretzman, Austin Annable, Malia Lauer and Brennen Myers from a team that finished 8-6. Person hopes Devin Annable and freshmen Brock Saatzer are scoring threats for the 2012-13 Warriors. Saatzer had a hat trick in the consolation semifinals.

“Between Brock and Devin we should have a good group up front,” Person said.