Girls Hockey: Warriors skate into first section final
In front of a standing-room only crowd, with an electrifying atmosphere, the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors capitalized on home-ice advantage in the Section 8-2A semifinals. The top-seeded Warriors rode a second-period goal by Cheyenne Abear, a t...
In front of a standing-room only crowd, with an electrifying atmosphere, the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors capitalized on home-ice advantage in the Section 8-2A semifinals.
The top-seeded Warriors rode a second-period goal by Cheyenne Abear, a third-period marker by Ella Kalusche and staunch defense to defeat the No. 4 Sartell/Sauk Rapids Storm' N' Sabres 2-0 Tuesday at Essentia Health Sports Center.
"'Chey' and Ella were outstanding tonight," Warriors head coach Jim Ernster said. "It just is a credit to the depth we have. Every day our girls are out there pushing each other to get better. Every night someone steps up and rises to the occasion. ... You could go down the roster and there were a lot of good players out there tonight."
BLF smothered the Sabres with its forecheck, outshooting the Sabres 42-16. The Warriors registered 19 quality scoring chances to SSR's four and advanced to the first section final in program history.
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Warriors 2, SSR 0
- The key: BLF outshot the Sabres 42-16
- Overall: Brd 25-2, SSR 18-7-2
- Next: No. 1 Brainerd/LF vs. No. 2 Roseau for Section 8-2A championship at Bemidji 7 p.m. Friday.
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"They're the backbone of the team," Warriors goalie Olivia King said of her defense. "There's no one better."
The Warriors, who have won seven in a row, will face off against second-seeded Roseau at Bemidji at 7 p.m. Friday in their quest for the program's first trip to state.
"We just talked to (the girls), that they can be happy with the win, but we can't be satisfied yet," Ernster said. "(Wednesday) we need to go out and start preparing to win a section championship, not just be happy to be there."
Abear and Kalusche said Tuesday's atmosphere was stirring.
"It was so fun," Abear said. "Just the energy, it pumped us up way more. I felt like we played a lot harder just because they were there. It was great to have their support."
"It was crazy," Kalusche said. "It was packed. Just that electric atmosphere makes you more excited."
King added that it's an "amazing feeling" to be playing for a section title.
"This team, we definitely deserve it," King said. "We work hard every day in practice. We come to play and we're just excited for Friday."
Freshman Chloe Stockinger was dazzling in net for the defending section champion Sabres. She rejected 40 shots, getting peppered with 16 in the first, 10 in the second and 16 more in the third.
"She was outstanding," Ernster said, "and they've got two of them. They (graduated) (Clare) Minnerath last year and I thought maybe Sartell would drop down, but nothing's changed. They have two good goaltenders."
After about 22 minutes of scoreless play, Abear put BLF on the board. More than 90 seconds into a Warrior power play, she took a shot, and there was mayhem in front of Stockinger before Abear tucked in her 19th goal of the season. Assists went to Lindsey Booth and King.
"Abby Pohlkamp was skating down the side," Abear said. "She kind of lost the puck. It flew over so I got it. As I skated down, I didn't see anyone with me. I saw one of their players in front of the net so I thought it was a good opportunity for a screen. I tried to shoot around her. I shot, went around her, skated and followed my shot. It poked out, it was in and I didn't even know I hit it in."
It stayed 1-0 Warriors for about another 19 minutes until Kalusche delivered her fourth goal of the season. She was assisted by Emma Smith and Sophie Robinson.
"Sophie made a great play," Kalusche said. "I knew she was going to shoot it because that's just 'Soph' so I was going for a rebound or a tip. It came right to my stick. I thought I could get a good tip and it just barely trickled in but that's what counts."
After a few quality chances in the first two periods, the final 17 minutes were played at a frantic pace. King faced as many shots in the third (8) as she did in the first two combined. The Sabres pulled Stockinger for an extra skater with less than two minutes remaining but BLF's Gabbie Smith almost scored short-handed, hitting the post of an open net, before BLF persevered for its 25th victory in 27 games.
"The girls cleared the zone," King said. "They know what they're doing. There's no doubt we deserved to win that game."
Sartell/SR 0 0 0-0
Brainerd 0 1 1-2
Second period: BLF-Cheyenne Abear (Lindsey Booth, Olivia King) ppg 11:57
Third period: BLF-Ella Kalusche (Emma Smith, Sophie Robinson) 14:35
Shots on goal: Brd 16-10-16--42, SSR 5-3-8--16
Goalies: Brd-Olivia King (16 saves); SSR-Chloe Stockinger (40 saves).