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Girls Hockey: Trojans hand Warriors first loss

The Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors hosted Wayzata Friday, Nov. 11.

Hockey player skates with the puck with a defender after her.
Brainerd/Little Falls' Molly Pohlkamp takes the puck up the ice against Wayzata on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Although she’s a freshman, Julia Ostapeic is no stranger to varsity action.

She is, however, a stranger to scoring varsity goals. That is until Friday, Nov. 11, when the forward tallied her first two varsity goals to help the No. 16 ranked Wayzata Trojans to a 3-2 non-conference victory over the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors at Essentia Health Sports Center.

“She’s got good hands and she’s got varsity experience,” Trojans head coach Buzz Bazzachini said. “She played a year ago. She can shoot the puck. She was in the right place at the right time and got two goals tonight.”

Ostapeic’s first goal came on the power play. The Warriors struggled to clear the zone as Ostapeic closed on net. The loose puck found her stick as her momentum was going toward the goal. She fired a point-blank shot at Warrior goalie Breya Sawyer who couldn’t react fast enough.

Brainerd/Little Falls' Lucy Peterson gets the puck away from Wayzata's Courtney Jacobs on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Brainerd/Little Falls' Lucy Peterson gets the puck away from Wayzata's Courtney Jacobs on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“I was very impressed with our girls and the way that they started,” Warriors head coach Tate Rusk said. “The name of the game tonight was whenever you get them on their heels you have to keep the pressure on and I thought our girls did a great job with that.
“Now the power-play goal that they had was a tough one. We talked to our D and our forwards about making sure there's nothing soft in the middle. We tried to clear through the middle and that’s what happens when you give a good team like Wayzata an opportunity like that. They make you pay.”

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Brainerd’s best offensive chance of the first period came on a cross-ice pass from sophomore defender Aubree Caauwe to Molly Pohlkamp whose one-timer just missed the mark from close range.

The Trojans outshot BLF 11-8 in the first period. A big change from the Warriors' season-opener when they held Buffalo without a shot on net.

Near the start of the second period, Aubree Caauwe’s first attempt to get the puck in close was a weak dribbler, but the sophomore got a second chance. This time her shot got to the blocker of Trojan goalie Ella Podiak and the rebound found junior Payton LeMieur who buried the puck for a 1-1 score.

The Warriors evened the shots on goal to 18 apiece. At the end of the game, BLF held a 30 to 27 shots advantage. It’s the second straight night the Warriors put up 30 shots on net.

“This week we’re going to shoot a lot of pucks,” Rusk said. “We’re going to shoot a lot of pucks. At the beginning of tryouts, we knew we were going to need to shoot a lot more. Come next week, that’s the name of the game, shooting more and learning to score.”

Ostapeic handed Wayzata a 2-1 lead two minutes into the third period as she skated through and around the Warriors’ defense to once again get a close-in look. She fired high glove side for her second goal of the game.

Four minutes later, Noelle Nobel made it 3-1 Wayzata as she picked up a loose puck that squirted out of a scrum in front of the net and snagged a shot on a wide-open net.

“You go back to the first period and we played like we had a lot of young kids,” Bazzachini said. “We were pretty jittery with a lot of turnovers. In the second period, I wanted them to settle down a little bit, but they settled down too much. They were relaxing. So the third period we basically said to them, ‘you have 17 minutes. The team that wants to win the most is probably going to win.’ That means battling for loose pucks. Being smart with the puck. Of course, when you get a goal it gives you a little jump and then we got another one and it turns out we needed it.”

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The Warriors had four more power-play chances but couldn’t connect despite creating numerous shots on net. BLF finished 0-for-5 on the power play.

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“Our special teams got about 10 minutes worth of work this week,” Bazzachini said. “From a power-play standpoint, we have some pretty heady kids that understand things. I wasn’t surprised we had a little success there.

“Penalty killing I was scared to death of. We didn’t have a boatload of time to work on it, but they did a really nice job.”

Wayzata’s Podiak finished with 28 saves. Sawyer finished with 24 saves for the 1-1 Warriors.

“I thought Breya saw pucks way more tonight than she saw last night,” Rusk said. “Tonight’s not on her by any means. She battled for us and we’re thankful for her. She was mentally tough.”

Brainerd/Little Falls' Breya Sawyer defends the net against Wayzata on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Brainerd/Little Falls' Breya Sawyer defends the net against Wayzata on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

With one second remaining, Lucy Peterson finally found an opening on Podiak's net to make it 3-2. Her goal was assisted by fellow defensive player Josie Kappes.

“Overall, really good things we saw,” Rusk said. “There are definitely things we need to clean up. That’s something we’ll do next week with a full week of practice before we play Armstrong on Friday. That’s why we schedule these games for our girls to play in playoff-style hockey.

“I was very impressed with our girls playing back-to-back games. Conditioning is still something we’ll be working on, but tonight we made a couple of adjustments line-wise and I think we felt good about it. I feel good with where we are at.”

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Wayzata 1 0 2 -- 3

Brainerd/LF 0 1 1 -- 2

First period: W-Julia Ostapeic ppg 7:51

Second period: Brd-Petyon LeMieur (Aubree Caauwe) 1:59

Third period: W-Ostepeic (Noelle Nobel) 2:20; W-Nobel (Sam Mathe) 6:01; BLF-Lucy Peterson (Josie Kappes) 16:59

Shots on goal: BLF 8-10-12 -- 30, W 11-7-9 -- 27

Power plays: BLF 5-0, W 3-1

Goalies: BLF-Breya Sawyer (24 saves); W-Ella Podiak (28 saves)

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Wayzata 3, Warriors 1

Key: Two third-period goals lifted Wayzata past BLF

Overall: BLF 1-1, W 1-0

Next: Brainerd/Little Falls hosts Armstrong/Cooper 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

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