Girls Hockey: Warriors rally in 3rd period to advance
Brainerd/Little Falls girls hockey coach Jim Ernster wasn't sure what to think when he heard "hooting and hollering" coming from the inside of his team's locker room during the second-period intermission of a 1-1 tie with No. 4 Sartell/Sauk Rapid...
Brainerd/Little Falls girls hockey coach Jim Ernster wasn't sure what to think when he heard "hooting and hollering" coming from the inside of his team's locker room during the second-period intermission of a 1-1 tie with No. 4 Sartell/Sauk Rapids in the Section 8-2A semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Essentia Health Sports Center.
"I was concerned they were wasting energy," Ernster said, whose squad is the top seed and defending section champion, "but they actually found some serious resolve and energy. They found a way to motivate themselves."
The determined Warriors took the ice and scored the winning goal just 34 seconds into the third period when senior Abby Pohlkamp took a pass from Sophie Robinson and fired a shot past Stormin' Sabres goalie Chloe Stockinger for an insurmountable 2-1 lead. B/LF would add two empty-net goals by Gabbie Smith in the final minute for a 4-1 victory and a trip to a third straight section final.
"We knew we had to have the most energy in the third period," Warrior senior Cheyenne Abear said of her team's rally. "We've been a good third-period team all year." Another standout for B/LF in the third period was senior goaltender Olivia King. She stopped breakaway attempts by Grace McCabe and S/SR's top scorer Brooke Walters in the final six minutes. King also made an admirable save against Rachel Wieland on the power play with 3:09 remaining.
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Warriors 4, Sartell/Sauk Rapids 1
- Key: Abby Pohlkamp's power-play goal early in 3rd period snapped a 1-1 deadlock for the Warriors.
- Overall: BLF 22-4-1, S/SR 15-11-1
- Next: Warriors vs. North Wright County (St. Michael-Albertville/Monticello) in Section 8-2A Championship, Friday, Feb. 14, at TBA
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The Warriors clinched the victory as Gabbie Smith came out of the penalty box for a breakaway and an empty-net goal with one minute remaining. Smith added another empty-net goal with 18 seconds left.
"(Going to the section final) the past two years helped us," King said. "Our younger players remember how bad it feels to lose (in the section playoffs). And these girls never want to feel that way." There wasn't a lot of offense in the opening minutes as each team managed just one shot in the opening 6:30. The Warriors had the best scoring chance of the opening period when Sophie Robinson made a perfect backhand pass in front to Smith, who quickly snapped off a close shot that Stockinger stopped at the 7:15 mark.
The Stormin' Sabres had the only power play of the first period, but the Warriors actually had the best scoring chance playing shorthanded when a S/SR player surrendered the puck in her own end. Brainerd took control of the loose puck, but couldn't manage a shot on goal.
The Stormin' Sabres assumed a 1-0 lead at 1:10 of the second period when Kelly Carriere fired a low shot as she skated past the Warrior net. The puck slipped under the goalie pad of King.
B/LF tied it 2:16 later on the power play when Abear's shot from the point was deflected in front by Emma Booth to make it 1-1. Robinson picked up her first of three assists on the play.
"I was just trying to get the shot on net," Abear explained of the goal. "Emma (Booth) did a nice job of screening the goalie."
King kept the game tied with two big saves in the period as the Warriors killed off three power plays. The senior goalie stopped a quick shot by Walters with an extended pad save at the 6:42 mark. She also deflected away Anna Orth's breakaway chance with 1:12 remaining.
For more photos of the Warrior girls hockey game, go to https://bit.ly/2E85CUa .
• The Warriors will face North Wright County (St. Michael-Albertville/Monticello) in the section final. The Warriors edged NWC 3-2 on Dec. 26. The River Hawks, who play in the Mississippi 8 Conference, are 22-5 overall.
• The Warriors swept the regular-season series with Sartell/SR - winning 5-1 on the road Dec. 11 and triumphing 3-1 at home Jan. 17. B/LF now has a six-game win streak over S/SR.
• Tuesday was the third playoff meeting between the two Central Lakes Conference teams in the past 16 years. Brainerd won the two previous matchups, 7-4 in 2007 and 2-0 in 2017.
Sartell/SR 0 1 0-1
Brainerd/LF 0 1 3-4
First period: No scoring.
Second period: S/SR-Kelly Carriere 1:10; BLF-Emma Booth (Cheyenne Abear, Sophie Robinson) (ppg) 3:25
Third period: BLF-Abby Pohlkamp (Robinson) (ppg) 0:34; BLF-Gabbie Smith (Robinson) (eng) 16:00; BLF-Gabbie Smith (Pohlkamp) (eng) 16:42
Shots on goal: BLF 28, SSR 22
Goalies: BLF-Olivia King (21 saves); SSR-Chloe Stockinger (24 saves)