Girls Hockey: BLF loses in state quarterfinals to No. 1 Andover
BLF vs Andover in the Class 2A state quaterfinals
ST. PAUL — ST. PAUL — Back in the state tournament for the first time since 2019, the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors could not get past the top-seeded and undefeated Andover Huskies Thursday, Feb. 24, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, who sent the Warriors to the consolation bracket with a 5-0 victory.
Warriors goalie Breya Sawyer notched 48 saves in net as the Huskies outshot BLF 53-10.
“Breya played phenomenal tonight,” Warriors head coach Tate Rusk said. “I felt we could’ve done a better job supporting her. It is time that we have to step up in a big game like this and she stepped up.”
Andover head coach Melissa Volk said Sawyer made it tough for her team.
“She played great and was the backbone of their team for this game,” Volk said. “She was very good.”
BLF junior Josie Kappes noted she was a bit nervous playing under the bright lights of the Xcel Energy Center.
“I know jitters were high for a lot of girls,” she said. “I was pretty nervous coming in because it was a big stage with everyone watching. We had a bit of a busing error on the way here that brought everyone’s stress levels up, but we just have to focus on controlling what we can control.”
Sawyer added: “It was a great opportunity to be back here. It was a dream come true and everyone played hard.”
Andover thought it had a goal at the 8:22 mark of the first period, but it was waved off.
It didn’t take long for the Huskies to get on the board after the no-goal call for goaltender interference as at the 9:46 mark, Isa Goettl scored on assists from Maya Engler and Madison Brown.
The Warriors left the first period only trailing 1-0 despite the Huskies owning a 18-1 shots on goal advantage.
BLF was able to create more shots in the second period. Still trailing 1-0, the Warriors went on their first power play of the night with 7:19 left in the second.
After a turnover, Andover’s Ella Boerger scored a breakaway short-handed goal just 22 seconds into the Warriors’ power play as the Huskies took a 2-0 lead.
“It was a huge shift for us,” Volk said. “Things could’ve gone two different ways at that point with their power play.”
Rusk added: “It takes the wind out of your sails there, but I knew our girls were going to respond well. It sucks, but you have to have a short memory on the bench and forget about it.”
Sawyer fended off a flurry of Huskies shots to keep it 2-0 after the second period. The Warriors had another power play opportunity in the second period, but did not score.
“We didn’t want to put in our mind to set back and play defensive,” Rusk said. “We tried to attack the best we could. I thought we did a good job of containing them after the first two.”
The Huskies held a 35-6 shots on goal advantage after the second period.
“We were just trying our hardest,” Sawyer said. “You just have to control what you can control.”
Andover made it 3-0 quickly after Goettl scored her second goal 29 seconds into the third period.
Mackenzie Jones added two more goals for the Huskies, including a power-play goal. Maya Engler assisted on three of the five goals for Andover.
Defensively, Kappes said they tried to get into the body of the Huskies players.
“Andover has really good hands and it’s good to take away the body and be a big presence on the net to help Breya out,” she said.
BLF will play the loser of the No. 4 Maple Grove and No. 5 Gentry matchup in the consolation bracket at noon Friday at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
“We are going to try to get good rest tonight,” Rusk said. “I told the girls we can’t change anything because the season is not done yet and we want to go out with a win.”
Andover 1 1 3 — 5
Brainerd/LF 0 0 0 — 0
First period: And-Isa Goettl (Maya Engler, Madison Brown) 9:46
Second period: And-Ella Boerger SHG 10:03
Third period: And-Goettl 0:29, And-Mackenzie Jones (Engler) 9:13, And-Jones (Sara Kaiser, Engler) PPG 12:52
Shots on goal: BLF 1-5-4 10, And 17-18-18 53
Goalies: BLF-Breya Sawyer (48 saves); And-Courtney Stagman (10 saves)
Andover 5, Warriors 0
Key: Despite 48 Breya Sawyer saves, Andover was too much to handle for Warriors.
Overall: BLF 17-12, And 28-0.
Next: BLF vs. Maple Grove/Gentry Academy noon Friday, Feb. 25.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.