Girls Hockey: Warriors clinch share of conference title
Warriors 3, St. Cloud 1 The key: Lindsey Booth and Abby Pohlkamp combined for six points Conference: BLF 9-1, SC 8-2 Section 8-2A: 11-1, SC 6-3 Overall: BLF 21-2, SC 16-6-1 Next: BLF at Alexandria 5:15 p.m. Thursday. One down, three goals remaining.
Warriors 3, St. Cloud 1
The key: Lindsey Booth and Abby Pohlkamp combined for six points
Conference: BLF 9-1, SC 8-2
Section 8-2A: 11-1, SC 6-3
Overall: BLF 21-2, SC 16-6-1
Next: BLF at Alexandria 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
One down, three goals remaining.
The Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors secured a share of the Central Lakes Conference title with a 3-1 victory over the St. Cloud Icebreakers in the final home game of the regular season Tuesday at Essentia Health Sports Center. It's the second CLC title in program history-the other was in the 2010-2011 season.
"We're long overdue for a good year," Warriors' co-captain Ally Smith said. "It's unbelievable."
BLF has 10 points in the CLC standings with a 1-point CLC game remaining Thursday at Alexandria. A victory there gives the Warriors the title outright. St. Cloud and Sartell entered Tuesday with eight points apiece. Both could earn two more CLC points and could tie the Warriors if BLF loses Thursday.
"It's a credit to the kids," Warriors coach Jim Ernster said of the CLC title. "From Day One, they've just gone out and worked hard. They've been very tough to play against and tonight was another of those games. Once we got past that first period and without that little hiccup in the second period they played a pretty good game, which is what you're gearing toward.
"Certainly the conference title is a byproduct of hard work and determination. That's what these girls have done all year."
On the horizon for the Warriors is getting the No. 1 seed in the Section 8-2A playoffs, winning the section and going to the Class 2A state tournament.
"First of all, we've got to win our first playoff game. That's Step One," Ally Smith said, "then build from there. Ultimately our goal is to win the section and be the first (BLF) team to go to state."
Brainerd honored five seniors during Tuesday's first intermission. The delegation included Ally Smith, Mara Roberts, Kennedy Rusk, Abby Thelen and Brooke Watland.
"My sophomore year, coming in, we kind of knew we weren't very strong as a team," Ally Smith said, "but we've been building over the past three years and it's been amazing. The girls coming in have helped us so much.
"This year especially has been so special and unique in the way that we work so well together. We have such chemistry and we've had it since Day One on this team."
Ernster said this senior group is five special young ladies.
"I've talked about them a lot, whether I'm at (Brainerd Sports) boosters or anything else," he said. "They've created this culture of 'Hey, this is how we go about things. We go about it in a team-first mentality,' and that's something that, No. 1, they should be proud of, but No. 2, as coaches we're going to make sure we hold every class after this accountable to that same mantra. It's team first. It's not me first.
"Ally, Abby, Mara, Kennedy and Brooke have established that culture, and that's a credit to those five young ladies, which is great."
On senior night, a line of underclassmen enjoyed a productive game. The line of sophomores Cheyenne Abear and Abby Pohlkamp and freshman Lindsey Booth combined for six points. Booth snapped in two goals and Pohlkamp one. Pohlkamp collected two assists and Booth one.
"That line, when they're going, they're really, really good," Ernster said. "They play well together. I give (assistant coach) Carl (Sneep) credit because he sought those three out right away early on and we put them together. We've separated them for some small periods, but for the most part they've been a really good line. They played consistent. They have fun playing with each other."
Throw in the staunch goaltending of Olivia King, who stopped 22 of 23 St. Cloud shots, and you know why the Warriors are 21-2 overall.
Lindsey Booth set up Pohlkamp for the game's first score at 9:19 of the first. During a 2-on-1 rush, Booth cruised along the near boards, accepted a pass from Booth and slammed it past Icebreakers' goalie Emily Musielewicz.
Lindsey Booth put the Warriors up 2-0 at 8:09 of the second. With two defenders on her, she slipped an on-ice shot into the right corner of the net.
Almost seven minutes later, the Icebreakers got on the board. During a 57-second 2-man advantage, there was a mass of sticks in front of King and Gabbie Rud punched in the disc at 15:00 of the second.
In the third, Lindsey Booth and Pohlkamp sailed in on a 2-on-1 rush and Booth's shot beat Musielewicz for the final score.
Section seedings will be determined Monday, Feb. 6. BLF will open in the quarterfinals Feb. 11. BLF entered Tuesday's game with the No. 9 Quality Results Formula in 2A and led the section standings.
"Beating St. Cloud certainly cements the idea that 'Hey, we need to be in that conversation for the top two seeds,"' Ernster said. "How it plays out, you never know until the actual seeding takes place, but I think we've thrust ourselves into that conversation."
St. Cloud 0 1 0-1
Brainerd/LF 1 1 1-3
First period: BLF-Abby Pohlkamp (Lindsey Booth, Mara Roberts) 9:19
Second period: BLF-L. Booth (Pohlkamp) 8:09; SC-Gabbie Rud ppg 15:00
Third period: BLF-L. Booth (Pohlkamp) 3:05
Shots on goal: Brd 9-7-11--27, SC 7-10-6--23
Goalies: Brd-Olivia King (22 saves); SC-Emily Musielewicz (24 saves).