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Girls Hockey: Flying Warriors return to ice for 5-3 victory

Patrick Schoonover and his family would want the games to resume. Following the tragic death of the 14-year-old Eastview Bantam hockey player late Friday afternoon at Essentia Health Sports Center, the Brainerd arena was shut down for about 48 hours.

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Flying Warriors’ Maddie Ellingson (11) takes the puck during a faceoff Tuesday against Fergus Falls. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Patrick Schoonover and his family would want the games to resume.

Following the tragic death of the 14-year-old Eastview Bantam hockey player late Friday afternoon at Essentia Health Sports Center, the Brainerd arena was shut down for about 48 hours. Activities began to resume Sunday night and varsity practices resumed Monday.

The Brainerd/Little Falls Flying Warriors had been scheduled to play River Lakes later Friday but their game was postponed by the tragedy. BLF was eager to get back to work and it showed in a 5-3 Central Lakes Conference win Tuesday night over the Fergus Falls Otters.

"It was very emotional," junior Brooke Mimmack, one of the Warriors' captains, said of Friday's incident. "A lot of us saw it actually happen. It was very sad for the whole community and everyone here watching. It was kind of eye-opening really.

"The JV had to be here at 4:30. I take some of the girls here so I came in to take some of their skates to get sharpened. The game started, a bunch of us came back in and we were like 'What happened?' It was very sad."

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Flying Warriors coach Jim Ernster said a representative from Bay Ministries visited with the girls at Monday's practice.

"They did a nice job of helping frame the situation," Ernster said. "Certainly it's a tragic situation, but part of the healing process is persevering, getting back into the routine of things."

Because of Friday's postponement the Flying Warriors went 12 days between their opener against North Wright County and Tuesday's game.

"Especially after (Monday's) practice - that was a little bit rough - I wasn't really sure what to expect tonight," Ernster said. "The first period I thought we did a nice job moving the puck and communicating. I think that kind of tailed off a little bit after that to be honest. I don't think our second and third periods were as strong as our first period."

Ally Smith registered a hat trick for the Flying Warriors, tallying once in the first and twice in the third. Mariah Lennander and Katie Orth provided the other goals for BLF, which evened its record at 1-1-0.

Smith gave BLF a 2-1 edge with 2:30 left in the first with a wrister off of Ohman's blocker. She roofed her second goal under the crossbar at 12:30 of the third and completed her hat trick with a nifty spin-around move for a 5-2 lead.

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Flying Warriors 5,

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Fergus Falls 3

The key: Ally Smith scored a hat trick for Brainerd/Little Falls

Conference: BLF 1-0-0, FF 0-2-0

Overall: BLF 1-1-0, FF 0-4-0

Next: Brainerd/Little Falls at Princeton 7 p.m. Friday

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"One thing that Ally has going for her is she handles the puck really well, and she works hard," Ernster said. "Anytime you work hard good things will happen."

Lennander opened the scoring 2:37 after the opening faceoff with a backhanded rebound. About a minute later Flying Warriors goalie Olivia King made a pad save on Georgia Wildung's breakaway.

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Later in the first Lennander streaked in on a breakaway but shot the puck wide left. Not long after, Smith hit the pipe from the slot.

The Otters tied it 1-1 at 14:54 of the first when Annika Ohman's shot dropped behind King after she had saved the initial shot.

Orth's scored on a rebound at 6:18 of the second to give the Flying Warriors a brief cushion.

The Otters' Annie Magnusson rang the pipe with a shot on an Otter power play in the final two minutes of the second.

Smith hit another pipe during a 4-on-4 in the first 90 seconds of the third. Hannah Baker closed the gap for the Otters as she scored on the rebound of her own shot. Ohman tipped a shot past King for the game's final score with 1:19 left. The Otters pulled Shelstad with 48 seconds left but were unable to get anything past King.

"This is a whole new team," Mimmack said. "We're looking pretty good. We're a really young team. I think we have three seniors, and a lot of sophomores and freshmen.

"We've been working hard in practice. A lot of these girls have shown a lot of talent. It's been fun."

King, an eighth-grader, stopped 18 of 21 shots.

"Olivia continues to make strides," Ernster said. "I think she just has to keep being more fluid and more natural and that will come. She's young. She works hard. That's going to come with experience."

Fergus Falls 1 0 2 - 3

Brainerd/LF 2 1 2 - 5

First period: BLF-Mariah Lennander 2:37: FF-Annika Ohman 13:54; BLF-Ally Smith 14:30

Second period: BLF-Katie Orth (Abi Thelen, Smith) 6:18

Third period: FF-Hannah Baker 3:32; BLF-Smith 10:52; BLF-Smith (Elaina Christiansen, Brooke Watland) 12:30; FF-Ohman 15:41

Shots on goal: BLF 9-6-9-24, FF 6-7-8-21

Goalies: BLF-Olivia King (18 saves); FF-Katie Shelstad (19 saves)

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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