Warriors Athlete of Week: Andres' return spells doom for Alexandria
If you mistakenly forgot about Wyatt Andres, he made sure you quickly remembered.
After missing more than a month of the season with an injury, the senior right wing for the Brainerd Warriors boys hockey team scored three goals in a 5-2 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Alexandria Cardinals Feb. 5.
The victory avenged a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals Dec. 20 and catapulted the Warriors to the top of the conference standings at the time.
"He loves hockey and when you're laid up as long as he was, he's been sitting there watching for a month, month and a half, thinking, 'I' can't wait until I get back,'" Warriors head coach Dave Aus said. "I'm sure part of that was just his excitement to be back. Then he's pretty gifted and skilled and smart. When you put all those things together that was a recipe for success for him that night."
The hat trick doubled his goal output for the season and handed Andres 12 points at that point of the season.
Andres said it was harder to watch his team play without him than to deal with his injury.
--- --- --- --- ---
- Sport: Hockey
- Position: Right wing
- Year: Senior
- Age: 18
- Height: 5-foot-10
- Career highlight: Scoring a hat trick against Alexandria Feb. 5 or beating Bemidji in overtime in the Section 8-2A playoffs his sophomore year
- Other sports: Ping pong
- Grade-point average: 3.6
- Favorite class: Creative foods
- Favorite food: Chicken bacon ranch pizza
- Favorite movie: "Forrest Gump"
- Favorite TV show: "How I Met Your Mother"
- Favorite website/app: Snapchat
- Favorite restaurant: 612 Station
- Future plans: Play hockey in Canada after high school
- Favorite athlete: Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay Lightning
- Parents: Lee and Michelle Andres
--- --- --- --- ---
"It's just hard to watch, especially when a guy scores a goal and you see their faces and they're having so much fun," Andres said. "That could have been you, but you're sitting on the bench. You still have fun on the bench, but it's just not the same.
"I was super excited about that first game back. I was kind of nervous, too, because I knew I had to play really well because it was my first game back, and we needed the win because that was for the conference."
Andres started the season on fire with a point in a loss to Moorhead in the season opener, three points in a win over Bemidji and two more in a win over Fergus Falls. He sprinkled in three more assists before leaving the lineup because of a separated shoulder.
The loss of Andres was devastating because Aus expected him to be a playmaker. But the team rallied in Andres' absence, which is what the senior expected would happen.
"I knew that scoring was kind of my role," Andres said. "I figured if I didn't score we wouldn't get far, but we had a lot of guys step up and that's what I figured would happen. We have a lot of young guys that have stepped up and scored goals and scored points this year."
Aus was also concerned about Andres' return to the lineup. Brainerd went 6-2 in his absence, including a victory over Duluth East. The two losses, both to Roseau, bookended Andres' absence.
"It's difficult because I think we've been playing pretty well," Aus said. "This is nothing against Wyatt, but you do kind of worry about the dynamic and what this is going to look like now. Guys kind of get settled into their roles. But he answered the question his first game back. Had he not played we probably don't win that game because he gets three of them.
"This is a pretty unselfish team and I think guys are more worried about winning than personal minutes or points or things like that."
And according to Aus, Andres is an unselfish player. He led last year's team during the regular season with 33 points on 18 goals and 15 assists.
As a sophomore, he finished with 13 points on six goals and seven assists.
"He's good when he's playing with somebody who will share the puck," Aus said. "He's really good about sharing it, too. He's not a guy who is going to go end-to-end on his own. That's just not who he is. He's better when he's playing with somebody that shares the puck. He's better in more wide open games instead of physical games. That's not to say the kid isn't physical, but he is better when the game is more of a track meet type of game.
"He's smart. He's got a really good hockey IQ. He sees things, more so than his brothers and other guys we have on our team. He's got a really high hockey IQ."
As a sophomore, Andres enjoyed a four-goal, five-point game in an 11-1 win over Willmar. He registered his second varsity hat trick and five-point game in a 12-3 win over Sauk Rapids last season and added a second hat trick his junior year over St. Cloud, but said the hat trick this season against Alexandria was a career highlight.
"A lot of it is the linemates," said Andres. "Who you're with has a lot to do with how you play. When you're on the ice you always have to be on the same page. If you're not on the same page that's when things start to go bad and you get scored on. You can't have any problems with your linemates. Against Alex, our line was really clicking."
Other notable performances
• Evan Storbakken, Nordic skiing, placed 10th in the Section 8 meet to advance to state.
• Grace Erholtz, Nordic skiing, placed sixth in the Section 8 meet to lead the Warriors girls to state.
• Brandon Neifert, Alpine skiing, finished fifth in the Section 4 meet to advance to state.
• Kyle Patnode, wrestling, won the 138-pound individual title of the Leopold-Haglund Invite.
• Cade Barrett, wrestling, won the 195-pound individual title of the Leopold-Haglund Invite.
• Abby Pohlkamp, hockey, scored three goals against Moorhead in the Section 8-2A quarterfinal.