Adapted Floor Hockey: Warriors playing for the 3-peat
From the first puck drop, the Brainerd Warriors will learn quickly. During the last two seasons, the Warriors have dominated opponents to the tune of a 31-0 record and two state titles. After the graduation of Cody Vleck, Jake Heikkenen and Jacob...
From the first puck drop, the Brainerd Warriors will learn quickly.
During the last two seasons, the Warriors have dominated opponents to the tune of a 31-0 record and two state titles. After the graduation of Cody Vleck, Jake Heikkenen and Jacob Heinlen and their combined 50 of Brainerd's 115 goals from last season, continued domination might be difficult.
"We knew coming off the last two years that it was going to be a brand-new team this year. But we still have a lot of talent on the team, it's just the depth that will be difficult from where we have been," Warriors head coach Todd Person said. "The kids that were coming off the bench a year ago are no longer coming off the bench. They need to be out there with a lot of minutes.
"I would like to think we can get back to that final game and win a state title again. We'll just see how things are going to go throughout the season. We'll need a lot of improvement as the year goes on."
Brainerd will find out right away how much improvement it needs as it faces what Person believes are the two biggest roadblocks in earning a third-straight state title. The Warriors open the season against Dakota United, who competed in the Adapted Soccer state final last fall, 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, in Rochester. The Warriors then face Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka Saturday, another top contender.
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- Head coach: Todd Person, eighth season.
- Career record: 74-22-1 (.763)
- 2017-18 record: 16-0, state champions.
- Captains: Brach Delcastillo, Matt Allord and Blaise Edinger.
- Assistant coaches: Josh Fordyce.
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"It's going to be a new year this year," Person said. "We definitely still have some talent there. We had a lot of younger players that have gotten significant time on the floor."
Sophomore Matt Allord and junior Blaise Edinger are two of those players, who saw lots of playing time.
Allord returns after scoring 19 goals and finishing with 42 points during the regular season. In Brainerd's three state playoff wins, Allord racked up three goals and 11 points.
Edinger finished with 18 goals and 33 points in the regular season and three goals and four points at state.
"They've done a really nice job of taking that leadership role day in and day out in practice, which has been great," Person said. "Matt has been a hockey player for a real long time and has a lot of skills with his stick. He's a real solid player. It's just how much time can he give us on the floor. He doesn't like to come off, but physically he needs to get that rest for his body.
"Blaise knows he will need to step up and get more time on the floor."
Freshmen Tre'Von Otey and Maddox Canon shined during state last year. Otey tallied four goals and six points, while Canon scored five times and assisted two other goals.
"We need both of them to continue to grow," Person said. "Both have looked really good in practice. Maddox, every year that he's come out, he just continues to look better and better. It just seems like whenever somebody turns around Maddox is right there, which is great that he's seeing things better when he's out on the floor. He's anticipating. He's being in the right spot. That's going to be just great because we're going to expect that he's going to give us a lot of minutes this year."
Brainerd's lone senior Brach Delcastillo will be a captain along with Allord and Edinger. First-year freshman Kaydn Robinson rounds out Brainerd's forwards.
Fifth-year varsity player Karlee Schuler is back after minding the net last season. Schuler allowed just 48 goals last season during Brainerd's 16-0 season. She finished with a save percentage of 73.
"I think Karlee is going to play back there some," Person said. "I don't know how much she'll play in the net. Tate Boelter has been practicing some for us as a goalie so we'll just see where things are at.
"Karlee has been on the team since she was in sixth grade and started to play as a seventh-grader. She works hard day in and day out in practice and even in the offseason. She's awesome."
Brainerd's defense returns three other players in Spencer Thompson, Sierra Hartung and Jacob Elias. Alex Goedker is in his first year with the team.
"It's Spencer's second year and just to see the difference from a year ago to now and being able to have that time on the floor last year with those three seniors we had last year has really helped him. He's looked good in practice. He knows where to go with the puck and he's not making those mental mistakes that he was a year ago.
"Sierra has improved quite a bit as well just with her stick. She hadn't ever done anything athletic in the past, so she's really had to work hard with just the stick movement and she continues to get better. Jacob Elias is someone we can play at either forward or defense. He's just a good versatile player."
Elias' versatility will be key as Person believes depth will be Brainerd's Achilles' heel this season.
Senior: Brach Delcastillo
Juniors: Blaise Edinger, Karlee Schuler, Tate Boelter
Sophomores: Jacob Elias, Matt Allord
Freshmen: Tre'Von Otey, Kaydn Robinson, Alex Goedker, Maddox Canon, Spencer Thompson
Eighth-grade: Sierra Hartung
Friday, Jan 4, Dakota United at Rochester Century 6 p.m.
Saturday, Jan 5, at Rochester Century 9 a.m.
Saturday, Jan 5, Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka at Rochester Century 12:30 p.m.
Jan 29, Maple Grove 4:15 p.m.
Jan 31, at Anoka-Hennepin 4:30 p.m.
Feb 5, Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka 4:30 p.m.
Feb 12, at Mounds View 4:30 p.m.
Feb 14, at Maple Grove 4:30 p.m.
Feb 19, Anoka-Hennepin 4:30 p.m.
Feb 21, at Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka 4:15 p.m.
Feb 28, Mounds View 4:30 p.m.