Despite maintaining a 32-14 edge in shots, leading 10-5 in quality scoring chances and having five power plays, the Brainerd Warriors couldn't find the back of the net often enough.
The result was a 4-1 loss to the Alexandria Cardinals in a Central Lakes Conference game at Essentia Health Sports Center Thursday, Dec. 20.
Following a 1-1 stalemate after one period, Class 1A's fifth-ranked Cardinals rattled off three unanswered goals to lift their overall record to 6-2-1 and their conference-leading mark to 5-0-1.
Caleb Strong's second goal of the game, at 13:41 of the third, iced the victory for Alexandria which was outshot 13-3 in the third.
"For two periods, we just sat back and watched them," Warriors coach Dave Aus said. "Then we finally decided in the third we're going to play. It's too late. There is no excuse and we have every excuse in the world-our bench-but it's just hard to stomach it."
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Alexandria 4, Warriors 1
- The key: The Cardinals scored three straight goals to snap a 1-1 tie
- Conference: Brd 1-1, A 5-0-1
- Overall: Brd 2-4, A 6-2-1
- Next: Brainerd at Grand Rapids 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21.
- For more photos go to https://bit.ly/2PToPLS
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Despite outshooting the Cardinals 10-5 in the second, the Warriors fell behind 3-1.
During a 2 on 1 rush, Strong flung a high wrister over the right shoulder of Warrior goalie Jacob Mitchell and it was 2-1. Jack Westlund's shot from the point appeared to be redirected in traffic and wound up in the back of the net for a 3-1 Alexandria edge at 14:26.
Brainerd's quality scoring chances in the second included Riley Andres during a 2 on 1 with Mason Kruse, but Cardinal goalie Bailey Rosch smothered Andres' shot with his pads. Warrior defensemen Joe Klang and Christian Kadolph hit posts. And Rosch stymied Brainerd's Wyatt Andres with a sprawling save. Rosch finished with 31 saves.
Just 69 seconds into the first, Alexandria banged a shot off the post, the rebound went to Alex Jost who tapped it into an open side of the net.
Late in the first, Brainerd's Michael Laber collected a turnover and took a shot. After a scramble in front, Nick Hastings buried the disc for a 1-1 tie.
After not having played for 12 days, Brainerd now plays three games in 72 hours. The Warriors, who have lost their last three games to fall to 2-4 overall, play at Grand Rapids Friday, Dec. 21, before returning home Saturday, Dec. 22.
"That's the way it goes," Aus said of three games in three days. "We've got to be better. The guys who are supposed to be our best guys have to be better because they weren't very good tonight.
"I thought the line of Laber, Brady Anderson and Hastings, and not because they scored, were great all night. They played hard, but we have to have four groups that play like that.
"It's frustrating because it's gone and you can't get it back. We've lost four games. At this point, I was thinking we might be maybe 5-1. We've got to decide that we're going to come out and compete the whole game. Until we do that, teams are going to beat us. The thing is everybody knows we're pretty good so it's not like they're going to come in here and roll over. They're going to come in here and play as hard as they can."
Alexandria 1 2 1-4
Brainerd 1 0 0-1
First period: A-Alex Jost (Josiah Gronholz, Wyatt Blahosky) 1:09; B-Nick Hastings 12:50
Second period: A-Caleb Strong 3:14; A-Jack Westlund (Strong) 14:26
Third period: A-Strong 13:41
Shots on goal: Brd 9-10-13--32, A 6-5-3-14
Goalies: Brd-Jacob Mitchell (10 saves); A-Bailey Rosch (31 saves).
For more photos go to https://bit.ly/2PToPLS.