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Boys Hockey: Warriors looking to surprise opponents in 22-23

The 2022-23 Brainerd boys hockey preview.

Coach standing amidst the players.
Head coach Howie Borden talks to the team during practice Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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In his second season, Brainerd Warriors head coach Howie Borden has another young team.

Borden is excited to build off last season, which didn’t see many wins on the scoreboard, but saw improvement from the start of the season to the end.

“It’s the culture,” Borden said. “This team is tight. We have a lot of returners and they are bringing last year’s gains into this year. From the first week of practice and the first weekend of scrimmages, you can tell this group cares about each other. I’m excited about the attitude in which we are approaching things.”

Last year’s leading scorer, Max Roby, left for junior hockey. He finished with 15 goals and nine assists. The Warriors also graduated Alex Jones, who recorded 24 points last season, and Harrison Seymour, who led the team with 16 assists.

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The top returning point-getter is senior John Finnegan. As a junior Finnegan notched 12 points with six goals and six assists.

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Finnegan is on a line with senior Mitch Brau and junior Brady Johnson.

Johnson is a transfer from St. Michael-Albertville and last season recorded five goals and eight assists for the Knights.

Junior Landon Mackcow, junior Kalvin Stengrim and sophomore Cade Stengrim make up one of the other top lines for the Warriors.

The Brainerd boys hockey team practices Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
The Brainerd's Mitch Brau and John Finnegan practice Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“Kade (Stengrim) was very offensive-minded in our first few scrimmages and was making things happen,” Borden said. “With him and his brother Kalvin along with Mackcow, they really feed off each other. That top six I expect to put up points for us.”

Last season, Kalvin Stengrim recorded two goals and six assists. Brau and Mackcow each tallied two points last season.

On the defensive end, Finnegan is a forward who converted to defense. Borden says he doesn’t quite know who else will step up on his D core and most are underclassmen.

“Right now we have seven kids fighting for those six spots and it’s fun to watch,” Borden said. “We have a young D core which is exciting. I feel we are more offensive on the back end though because we have some forwards who converted to defense. And one of our goals this season is to have one of our defensemen keep the rush and add as that fourth forward as we head up the ice.”

In net, Jed Klang is gone, so the Warriors turn to senior Brody Lund and junior Ryan Gerlich as their goaltenders.

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The Brainerd boys hockey team practices Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
The Brainerd's Sean Engelstad and Dylan Wikoff practice Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Lund played in 21 games last year and saved 87.1% of shots. Gerlich saw 13 games of action and saved 83.6% of shots.

“I’m excited for both of them,” Borden said. “I think both of them are going to push each other all year long. It’s going to be exciting to see them push each other. We have that internal competition which is good to see.’

Last season, the Warriors finished 6-19-2 overall and 4-4-2 in the Central Lakes Conference. They won the Section 8-2A play-in game against St. Cloud before losing to top-seed Moorhead in the section quarterfinals.

Borden said he saw promising things in the offseason with his team.

“Right away in the summer practices kids were on the same page,” Borden said. “They knew our systems from last year. They knew the kind of drills we do. We were doing those things and they were buzzing and having fun. We know the type of character we have on the ice and it signals that we wouldn’t have to reteach a lot of the things we had to teach last year.”

The Brainerd's Kalvin Stengrim (left) and Brady Johhnson practice Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
The Brainerd's Kalvin Stengrim (left) and Brady Johhnson practice Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Brau and Finnegan are two Warrior captains along with Conner Erickson, who won’t play this season due to an injury he suffered during the football season.

Kalvin Stengrim and Ryan Kennedy are both assistant captains. Kennedy scored seven points last year with one goal and six assists.

“Conner Erickson was going to be our captain this year and obviously our hearts go out to him and we will have his No. 20 sweater on the bench with us every game,” Borden said. “With our other captains, I feel like they bring good character traits. Each one leads differently and it’s nice to see that we have some younger leaders.”

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In the Section 8-2A, Borden thinks the Warriors can sneak up on some teams this year. Brainerd opens its season at Buffalo Tuesday, Nov. 29, before traveling to Roseau Saturday, Dec. 3 for a Section 8-2A game.

Howie Borden
Howie Borden
Kelly Humphrey

The Rams are currently ranked 19th in the Class 2A Let’s Play Hockey preseason poll.

The Warriors also play a couple of preseason top 10-teams in Class 1A including Central Lakes Conference rival Alexandria and area rival Little Falls.

“I feel we are going to compete and compete hard,” Borden said. “I do hope people take us lightly because I think they are going to be surprised.”

Roster
Seniors: Mitch Brau, Hayden Ranweiler, John Finnegan, Holden Larson, Noah Peterson, Conner Erickson, Steven Selisker, Chase Koop, Brody Lund
Juniors: Wyatt Glas, Landon Mackcow, Logan Goltz, Martin Timmons, Kale Koop, Ryan Kennedy, Kalvin Stengrim, Carter Gustason, Hayden Roberts, Braedon Manecke, Brady Johnson, Sean Engelstad, Kaleb Estrada, Ryan Gerlich, Taylor Madison, Ashton Extrand
Sophomores: Rowan Plestad, Dylan Wikoff, Kade Stengrim, Chad King, Gaje Germundson, Olaf Aus, Ryan Heinlen, Ryan Silvernail, Dylan Haar, Weston Herron, Ayden Bednarek, Henry Hartwig

Schedule
Tuesday, Nov. 29: at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3: at Roseau, 4 p.m.
Dec. 6: hosts St. Cloud Crush, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 8: at Northern Lakes in Breezy Point, 7 p.m.
Dec. 13: hosts Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 15: at Sartell, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 20: hosts Little Falls, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 29: hosts Elk River, 6 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Sauk Rapids, 7 p.m.
Jan. 6: hosts Cloquet, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 10: at Alexandria, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 12: at Duluth East, 5 p.m.
Jan. 14: hosts Roseau, 4 p.m.
Jan. 17: hosts St. Michael-Albertville, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 19: at St. Cloud Crush, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21: hosts Moorhead, 3 p.m.
Jan. 24: at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
Jan. 26: at Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 31: hosts Sartell, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 3: hosts Rock Ridge, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 4: hosts Detroit Lakes, 1 p.m.
Feb. 7: hosts Willmar, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 11: at Bemidji, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 14: at River Lakes in Richmond, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 16: hosts Alexandria, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 18: Section 8-2A play-in
Feb. 21: Section 8-2A quarterfinals
Feb. 25: Section 8-2A semifinals
March 2: Section 8-2A finals
March 8-11: Class 2A State Tournament

2022-23 Boys Hockey
Head coach: Howie Borden, second season
Brainerd career record: 6-19-2
2021-22 Brainerd record: 6-19-2 overall, 4-4-2 CLC
Captains: Mitch Brau, John Finnegan, Conner Erickson
Assistant Captains: Ryan Kennedy, Kalvin Stengrim
Assistant coaches: Daniel Billett, Andrew Murray, Toby Kvalevog (goalies), Adam Extrand (JV coach), Hayden MacLaughlin (JV), Jerr Johnson (volunteer), Craig Larson (volunteer), Paul Manecke (volunteer)

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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