Boys Hockey: Warriors in play-in for section tourney

The Brainerd Warriors will face No. 8 St. Cloud in a Section 8-2A play-in game Saturday, Feb. 18.

Howie Borden
Howie Borden
Kelly Humphrey

BRAINERD — The postseason starts Saturday, Feb. 18, for the Brainerd Warriors.

With one game remaining on its regular-season schedule, Brainerd received the No. 9 seed for the Section 8-2A playoffs and will face No. 8 St. Cloud in a play-in game Saturday, Feb. 18, in St. Cloud. A time has yet to be finalized.

According to Warrior head coach Howie Borden, St. Cloud is hoping for a later start time because it has games Thursday and Friday before the Saturday matchup.

The Warriors own a 10-11-3 overall record before Thursday’s final home game against Alexandria. St. Cloud owns an 8-12-2 overall record prior to its final two games.

Brainerd was 2-7-2 against section opponents, which included a 5-2 loss to St. Cloud Dec. 6 and a 5-1 loss Jan. 19 in St. Cloud.


According to the Quality Results Formula, Brainerd was the seventh-best team in the section with a score of 70.4. St. Cloud was eighth at 66.2 and St. Micahel-Albertville was ninth with 61.6.

“We’re excited for sections and we’re excited to be going up against St. Cloud,” Borden said. “We owe them. They beat us twice this year. We’re ready to compete and ready to get them back.

“For us, the key will be a hard forecheck and getting our puck in deep. St. Cloud plays great systems. In the neutral zone, they take away the middle and force you to the outside. We’re going to have to maintain the red line and dump that puck in and pressure the forecheck. We’ve found when we pressure the forecheck hard, we create turnovers and scoring chances.”

Brainerd is on a five-game unbeaten streak with wins over Class 1A’s 19th-ranked Rock Ridge, Class 1A’s seventh-ranked Detroit Lakes, Willmar and River Lakes and a 4-4 tie with Bemidji.

The Warriors’ offense has been led by Brady Johnson and his 19 goals and 44 points. John Finnegan also has 44 total points with 15 goals. Kade Stengrim owns 17 goals and 35 points.

Dylan Wikoff is next with 15 points and four goals. Chad King owns 14 points followed by Kalvin Stengrim and Kale Koop with 13 apiece.

In goal, Brody Lund is 5-6-1 with a 3.37 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage. Ryan Gerlich is 5-5-2 with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.

“Our confidence level is right where it should be,” Borden said. “We’re not getting too high. We’re not getting too low. The message has been let’s play our game. Let’s be characteristic of who we are and how we play. Let’s take care of our systems and our details and the rest will take care of itself.


“We’ve found as a team that when we play that way and we play our game, that’s where we’re finding our success.”

The winner of Saturday’s play-in game will face No. 1 seeded and Class 2A’s 18th-ranked Moorhead.7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Moorhead. The Spuds were 9-0 against section teams and 15-9 overall. They are on a six-game winning streak with their final game scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 at Hill-Murray.

No. 2 Roseau (14-9-1) will host No. 7 Bemidji (10-12-1) Tuesday. No. 3 Buffalo (13-9-2) hosts No. 6 Elk River/Zimmerman (10-15-0). No. 4 Sartell (15-6-2) will host No. 5 St. Michael/Albertville (5-16-2).

The section semifinals are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at the high seed. The section finals will be 7 p.m. March 1 at a neutral site to be determined.

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