Girls Hockey: Warriors outlast Sartell/Sauk Rapids 2-1
Brainerd/Little Falls hosts Sartell/Sauk Rapids Tuesday, Feb. 16.
A late surge fell short for the Sartell/Sauk Rapids Storm’N’Sabres Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Brainerd/Little Falls’ goalie Breya Sawyer made a save with five seconds left to preserve a 2-1 Warriors win at the Essentia Health Sports Center.
“We only had a little bit left, so I just tried to stay focused and keep a hold on it,” Sawyer said.
The win is extra important as BLF leap frogged SSR in the Central Lakes Conference standings. The game was double points as it is the only meeting between the teams.
“We knew what was at stake here,” Warriors head coach Jack Freeman said. “Double was on the line for conference and double was on the line for section, so we had to make it count.”
It was also a revenge game for the Warriors as SSR beat BLF 2-0 last year at Essentia Health Sports Center.
BLF held a 2-0 lead through two periods and looked prime for a shutout before a Storm’N’Sabres goal by Jayden Lommel with 1:23 left cut the lead in half.
Lommel’s goal came after a SSR timeout and it pulled its goalie.
SSR made one last rush with a 6-on-4 advantage, and played the last five seconds 6-on-3 as BLF was in the box for checking and roughing.
“We made it interesting late,” Freeman said. “We talked about it as a group and there were some interesting situations with the penalties. I just loved how our girls battled and competed to the end.”
Sawyer tallied 10 saves including the big one with five second remaining.
“She’s been steady for us,” Freeman said. “It gives the girls in front of her a ton of confidence when they know she’s going to make those saves. She gave us a chance to win and that’s all you can ask for.”
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The defense plays a big role in Sawyer’s confidence.
“(Our defense) is always communicating to me and is taking shots sometimes,” Sawyer said. “They are just making good plays.”
Overall, Freeman was happy with the defense his team played.
“I thought we limited the quality of their chances and kept their shots down,” Freeman said. “Everyone was committed in the D zone and engaged. As a coach that’s what you are looking for.”
Taylor Larson put the Warriors on the board with a goal 6:25 into the first period. Macy Peterson assisted on Larson’s second goal of the season.
“(Larson) made a play for us there,” Freeman said. “It just relaxes the bench a little bit and makes everyone play loose. She does so many things that don’t show up on a scoresheet for us, so when she goes down and scores a goal for us in a big spot that’s huge and she deserves to be rewarded.”
BLF outshot SSR 10-3 in the opening period with the Storm’N’Sabres only having one quality scoring chance.
Molly Hagelie added a power-play goal with just a little over two minutes into the second period.
“Our power play has been getting a lot better,” Emma Booth said, who assisted on Hagelie’s goal. “We practice it a lot and it's something that is going to be huge in the playoffs because that could be a game changer.”
SSR suffered a too-many-players-on-the-ice penalty to set up the Hagelie goal. Peterson picked up her second assist on the goal as well as Booth.
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“She sets the pace for us,” Freeman said of Booth. “She’s our base setter up front and the way she forechecks is just with so much heart. When everyone on the bench sees the way she’s going it evaluates everyone’s play.”
The power-play goal came from the second line which has been consistent for Freeman all year.
“They were good on the walls,” Freeman said of that second line. “They had a ton of offensive possession time. They work so well together and I thought they had a couple more opportunities. We saw some pipes from them. They are getting those looks for a reason. They are playing the right way.”
The 2-0 lead was a nice cushion for Sawyer, but she remained focused.
“It’s nice to know that we are still winning and doing good,” Sawyer said. “I’m always staying on my toes because a one-goal difference really isn’t that much.”
The forecheck was strong for BLF most of the night which contributed to them having a 21-11 shot advantage.
“Our team is known for good forecheck,” Booth said. “So their defense really can’t handle us.”
BLF now is on a five-game winning streak and plays the St. Cloud Icebreakers Thursday, Feb. 18.
“With a condensed season and a mostly section and region schedule, every game is just so critical,” Freeman said.
Sartell/SR 0 0 1 — 1
Brainerd/LF 1 1 0 — 2
First period: BLF-Taylor Larson (Macy Peterson) 6:25
Second period: BLF-Molly Hagelie (Macy Peterson, Emma Booth) 2:07 PPG
Third period: SSR-Jayden Lommel (Morgan Cromwell, Kelly Carriere) 15:37
Shots on goal: BLF 10-8-3 21, SSR 3-5-3 11
Goalies: BLF-Breya Sawyer (10 saves); SSR-Morgan Dorn (19 saves)
Warriors 2, Sartell/Sauk Rapids 1
Key: BLF holds on for a CLC win.
Conference: BLF 3-1, SSR 2-2-1.
Overall: BLF 6-2, SSR 4-3-1.
Next: BLF at St. Cloud 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.