Girls Hockey: Freshman makes quite an impression in opener
They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Freshman Cheyenne Abear made quite the first impression in her varsity debut for the Brainerd Warriors Thursday night at Essentia Health Sports Center. Abear notched a hat tr...
They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Freshman Cheyenne Abear made quite the first impression in her varsity debut for the Brainerd Warriors Thursday night at Essentia Health Sports Center.
Abear notched a hat trick and eighth-grade linemate Gabby Smith chalked up three assists as the Warriors opened the season with a rousing 4-1 come-from-behind victory over the North Wright County River Hawks.
Warriors 4 , North Wright County 1
The key: Brainerd scored four unanswered goals in the third period
Overall: Brd 1-0-0, NCW 0-0-1
Next: Brainerd at Cloquet 3 p.m.
"I will keep that with me for the rest of my life," Abear said of a hat trick in her first varsity game.
Warriors coach Jim Ernster credited the coaching players like Abear and Smith have received in the youth ranks for preparing them to play varsity hockey.
"They've been in those situations before where they've been relied on," Ernster said, "so when they need to score they have the mental ability to do it. A lot of times people think goal-scoring is just physical stuff. Goal scorers also have kind of a mental aptitude to quiet their mind in those chaotic situations.
"That's what you saw from Cheyenne. She's scored a lot of big goals in her life and she will score a lot more - same thing with Gabby. They've played in a lot of big games. They're not afraid of the big stage."
Not lost in the opener was the goaltending of freshman Olivia King. In her second year as a starter, King stopped 18 of 19 shots. Sixteen of those shots were quality chances.
"Olivia was very solid, very sound," Ernster said. "She's always square to the puck. She moved very well. You see her getting better and better. We saw that at the tail end of last year where she was just that much more fluid. She picked up where she left off."
After Camryn Wilson gave NCW a 1-0 lead at 12:41 of the second, the Warriors were shut out until their 4-goal third period.
Abear started the barrage at 5:34. From outside the faceoff circle, she deked a defender and flicked a wrister into the upper right corner.
"I grabbed the puck, made a quick move on one player, then I was on the goalie and I just shot it and it went in," she said.
Ally Smith's unassisted goal less than two minutes later was the actual game-winner. Her shot ricocheted in off the blocker of River Hawks goalie Julia Bogenholm at 7:23.
The rest of the game it was almost all Abear and Gabby Smith. Abear's second goal was on a backhand. She closed her memorable night by roofing a wrister with 2:01 remaining.
"On the second one, the puck had a weird bounce," Abear said. "I got it, made a move in on the goalie, then I just tried to fake her one way. I went the other and got the puck in that way.
"The third one was an amazing pass by Gabby. I just saw the upper-right corner, went for it and it went in."
After virtually each score, Abear dropped to her knees and put her gloves to her helmet like she was in disbelief.
"I was so into the game and all that that I couldn't feel my legs," she said. "When I saw (the third goal) go in, it was just like holy (moly). I couldn't handle it. I just fell to the ice. It was just wow. I was in awe."
The Warriors' outshot NCW 36-19 including 14-5 in the final period. The victory was Brainerd's first in an opener since the 2010-11 season.
"There's no doubt (a victory) creates positive energy," Ernster said, "but reality is it's the first step of many in a long season. Certainly it's good to start off on the right foot. We've just got to keep getting better day in and day out.
"When you win, it's a ton of fun, there's no doubt. But the bottom line is we need to be better in practice (Friday) because we've got a game Saturday (at Cloquet)."
NW County 0 1 0 - 0
Brainerd 0 0 4 - 4
Second period: NCW-Camryn Wilson (Paige Falde, Greta Stanton) 12:41
Third period: B-Cheyenne Abear (Gabby Smith) 5:34; B-Ally Smith 7:23; B-Abear (Gabby Smith) 8:08; B-Abear (Gabby Smith, Elaina Christiansen) 14:59
Shots on goal: Brd 11-11-14-36, NCW 7-7-5-19
Goalies: Brd-Olivia King (18 saves); NCW-Julia Bogenholm (32 saves).
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .