Warriors Athlete of Week: Center 2-way player for Brainerd/Little Falls girls hockey team
On a team loaded with skilled players, Lindsey Booth has risen to the top of the list in scoring.
But that's not all she brings to the table. As a center for the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors, she plays both ends of the rink.
Through 10 games, the junior is tied for the team lead in goals scored with nine and leads the team in scoring with 21 points. Defensively, she leads the team with a plus 14. That last statistic awards a player a "plus" each time they are on the ice when their team scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal. Players receive a "minus" if they are on the ice for an even-strength or shorthanded goal scored by the opposition.
"That plus-minus rating tells you more about how a player is playing rather than just boiling it down to goals and assists," Warriors coach Jim Ernster said. "Goals and assists can artificially inflate some of those important things.
"From a coach's standpoint, you want those kids that are plus 14 or whatever it is, and you want players that are dedicated to both ends of the rink. We have a lot of those girls on our team because that's something we stress. (Assistant coach) Sandy Smith is always barking at our forwards to make sure they're coming back as hard into the defensive zone as they are on zone-entry stuff, so they hear it a lot in practice.
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- Sport: Hockey
- Position: Center
- Year: Junior
- Age: 17
- Height: 5-8
- Career highlight: Beating Roseau to win 2018 Section 8-2A title, playing in Class 2A state tournament
- Other sports: Track and field
- Favorite class: Mr. Devine's English class
- Favorite principal: Mrs. Rusk
- Favorite TV show: "Friends"
- Favorite website: Instagram
- Future plans: Hopes to play college hockey, major in nursing
- Favorite hockey player: Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild
- Parents: Tim and Kristine Booth
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"A lot of our girls have picked that up, and certainly Lindsey has picked that up as well."
Booth takes pride in being a two-way player.
"I think we've been focused on that a lot more this year so I agree with Coach," she said. "We've worked pretty hard on backchecking this year and little things, like passing, getting open, making the right plays when we're supposed to."
Booth enjoyed a productive weekend Dec. 14-15 against Class 2A's ninth-ranked Roseau Rams and 1A's top-ranked Warroad Warriors as she totalled three goals and two assists. In a 13-0 win over Moorhead Dec. 4, she provided two goals and four assists.
Ernster said Booth's totals against Roseau and Warroad was "emblematic" of her game, which has become more consistent this season.
"She's worked really hard on the defensive aspect and backchecking, which in turn leads to more offensive opportunities, and a lot of times that will be after a turnover," Ernster said. "(For example) Roseau will start going the other way. With Lindsey's speed, she catches them from behind, gets the puck back, and then 'boom' you're back going the other direction. That's just a credit to her maturity as a player.
"When players are younger, backchecking is not as important to them, but she's just done that on a more consistent basis. She's always had the speed. We've seen bouts where she will work hard in all three areas, but this year you can see it on a way more consistent basis where in any end Lindsey's been working hard. That puts her in position to have a little bit more success on the offensive side."
Booth centers a line with Abby Pohlkamp on the left side and Josie Kramer on the right. Pohlkamp is the team's second-leading scorer with eight goals and seven assists. Kramer has contributed two goals and six assists.
"Abby's a hard-worker," Booth said. "She's strong, always gets the puck out. We're always looking for each other. Josie and I have been on a line like since 10U. We know each other's style and how we play. We're always there for each other. We know how we play.
"I would say passing is one of my specialities. That's what I bring to our line."
Ernster said scoring is as much a mental act as a physical act.
"Lindsey seems to always be calm in the offensive zone," he said. "There can be chaos going on and Lindsey will pick up that loose puck, make a nice little move and get herself in position. She has that quiet mindset that 'I'm going to pick out this corner' or 'I'm going to pick out this corner.'
"If there's a rebound in front of the net, she has the ability if the goaltender's down she'll think, 'OK, I've got to pull it a little bit this way and get it into the net,' where some kids will just beat it right back into the goalie's belly. That's just that sports maturity that you see as kids get a little bit older in their game, and Lindsey's developed that this year."
Ernster added that Booth has usually been pretty quiet but is becoming more vocal as a leader.
"I see her saying more things on the bench or being a little bit more of a leader at practice, whether it's picking up pucks after practice, doing those little things that you want leaders to do," he said. "I see a little bit more of a leadership role that she's taking on. She's still very quiet, but it's just subtle things, I think, that help her be a little more complete in all areas of her game."
The Warriors captured the first section championship in program history last season, edging Roseau 2-1 in three overtimes after losing to the Rams 3-2 in the final the previous year in four overtimes. At state, BLF lost to Edina 4-0 and to Andover 4-3 in overtime.
"Playing teams right away like Edina, that kind of made us a better team knowing what our competition would be, how good the Cities teams are," Booth said. "We use them as an example."
Other notable efforts:
• Mason Kuepers and Andy Dillon, swimming, each won two individual events and were on winning relays vs. Fergus Falls.
• Izzy Olson, gymnastics, won two events and the all-around title vs. Sauk Rapids.
• Joey Sauer, boys basketball, scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds vs. Rogers and scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds vs. Cambridge-Isanti.
• Ben Staehling, boys basketball, scored 20 points vs. Cambridge-Isanti.
• Atlie Danielson, Brad Patnode, Tucker Peterson and Braden Kramer, wrestling, went 3-0 at the Sauk Rapids Quadrangular.