Adapted Floor Hockey: Warriors hope depth leads to another state championship
Despite being the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division and the defending state champions, the unbeaten Brainerd Warriors are not overlooking any opponent this weekend. Brainerd is heavily favored to repeat as state champion. It has outscored the o...
Despite being the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division and the defending state champions, the unbeaten Brainerd Warriors are not overlooking any opponent this weekend.
Brainerd is heavily favored to repeat as state champion. It has outscored the opposition 115-48. The Warriors have won every game by no less than a 3-goal margin. Twice they scored 12 goals in a game. Twice they scored 10.
Brainerd has defeated every team in the tournament at least once except for St. Paul Humboldt which was not on its schedule.
"I think a real benefit for us is our depth," Warriors head coach Todd Person said. "In years past, we've always had good core players. This year, with players like Blaise Edinger, Tre'Von Otey and Maddox Canon, we've got so many kids we can cycle in and stay fresh. And with senior leadership (the team) should do what they need to do."
Brainerd (13-0) opens the state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Bloomington Jefferson High School against Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville, a team it has defeated three times during the regular season by a cumulative score of 20-9.
Mounds View is 1-9, winning only a play-in game to qualify for state. Brainerd has not played since Feb. 28 when it defeated Mounds View 8-5 in the regular-season finale.
"The kids want to get back and play games again after having a 2-week break," Person said.
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- Friday, March 16: North Division No. 1 Brainerd vs. South No. 4 Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville in state quarterfinals at Bloomington Jefferson High School 5 p.m.
- Saturday, March 17: Consolation semifinals 9 a.m., championship semifinals 10:30 a.m., consolation championship 12:15 p.m., third place 2:15, championship 2:30 p.m.
- Tickets: Single session $5 adults, $3 students.
- Game results and box scores: Posted at www.mshsl.org .
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Defenseman Jake Heikkenen leads the Warriors in scoring with 23 goals and 50 points. Following him are Matt Allord with 42 points, Cody Vleck 34, Edinger 33, Jacob Heinlen 26 and Otey 22.
The Warriors start Heinlen at center, Vleck at left wing and Allord on the right side. Heikkenen is the walker defenseman. Karlee Schuler and Sierra Hartung will be in the wheelchair goalie and chair defense positions.
Person said the players are excited and looking forward to the tournament, which Brainerd has won three times in its previous 23 years as a varsity program. He noted that beating Rochester Century, Dakota United and Robbinsdale Jan. 5-6 at the Rochester Tournament got the season off to a productive start.
The Rochester Tournament also provides the Warriors with the experience of what it's like to play at state. Brainerd played one game the first day at Rochester and two the second, just like it will at state, and stays overnight in a hotel.
"I think that helped us last year as well so when you get to the state tournament you're able to focus a little bit more and go with more of 'This is the reason we're here,' Person said. "We were thankful to have that opportunity last year and we were able to do it again this year. It's a good way to start the year to get (the players) going."
Brainerd has won 28 straight games. Its last loss was in the 2016 third-place game at state.
Other quarterfinal matchups:
No. 2S Rochester (5-6) vs. No. 3N Anoka-Hennepin (4-6)-5 p.m.: Rochester was the fourth-place finisher in 2017. The Raiders have won five of their past seven games. Anoka-Hennepin was the PI Division runner-up in 2017.
No. 2N Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka (10-3) vs. No. 3S St. Paul Humboldt (2-6)-6:30 p.m.: Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka is riding a 3-game win streak and a 7-1 mark in its past eight games. Junior Vincent Luu powers the Robins with 32 goals and 20 assists.
No. 1S Dakota United (10-2) vs. No. 4N Maple Grove (2-6)-6:30 p.m.: Perennial contender Dakota United won the consolation final in 2017. After opening the season with two losses, the Hawks are on a 10-game win streak. Dakota United head coach Brett Sadek has a career mark of 316-81-9. Senior center Riley Wisniewski has 28 goals and 19 assists. Maple Grove lost to Dakota United in the consolation final in 2017.