Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors Atwater brings her 'A' game to state
Cadence Atwater and the Brainerd Warriors regained the crown as state adapted floor hockey champions.
BRAINERD -- In Cadence Atwater’s four-year career, the Brainerd Warriors adapted floor hockey team lost just one game.
That came last year in the state title game.
On Saturday, March 18, Atwater and her Brainerd Warriors avenged that loss by winning the state tournament at Bloomington Jefferson High School
“It was so much fun to have the tournament go that way, especially with Cadence in the four years that she’s had and the two years being canceled by COVID and then last year the tough loss we had in that third period,” Warriors head coach Todd Person said. “It was just really great that she could get a championship before she goes off to college.”
Atwater opened the state championship game Saturday, with its first goal at 2:10 of the second period on an assist from Caleb Keran.
“Our winger Caleb was down in the corner and he got the puck up to me pretty well so I had a shot and just took it and it went in so we got that done,” Atwater said. “We were feeling pretty good. It was only halfway through the second period so we had a lot of game left so we just had to keep going.”
I loved being a captain. I loved every day with those guys.
She later assisted on Owen Olsen’s goal to hand Brainerd a 2-0 lead. Later, she assisted on Aiden Olsen’s game-tying goal in the third period to send the game into overtime where Brainerd defeated Dakota United 4-3.
“To tie it late in the game like that felt so good,” Atwater said. “That gave us the energy and confidence to think that we could do this. It just kept us going and kept us in the game.
“It’s always been our goal to get to state and win it. We had that in our mind that we could do that and we did.”
Earlier in the day, Atwater assisted on Keran’s second-period goal to help Brainerd to a 9-1 semifinal victory over Anoka-Hennepin.
“She moved from a starting center position to a starting defensive position this year so I know she doesn’t have all the points she was hoping to get,” Person said. “She just controls things so well for us. It’s very rare that anybody beats us back on defense because she always has her head in the right spot and knows where she needs to be to help on both sides of the floor.
“She’s just been a leader for us every day, before games, during games. She led the huddles and did everything that she needed to do and had just a fantastic season.”
In Brainerd’s 9-0 state quarterfinals victory over St. Paul Humboldt Friday, March 17, Atwater scored a first-period goal leading to a 4-0 lead after one period. She also assisted on Summer Headlee’s second goal to push Brainerd’s lead to 8-0.
“We are going to miss her tenacity the most,” Person said. “She doesn’t ever quit. She never gives up. She’s not a real big girl, but she never lets anybody push her around. She’s fighting for position all the time against players much bigger than her. That just shows the other players what they need to do and we’re going to miss that. That and day in and day out what she is able to do with her effort.
“She’s awesome. She’s a one-of-a-kind player so there will definitely be a hole there.”
Atwater helped Brainerd earn the North No. 1 seed by scoring 12 goals and adding six assists to finish with 18 points for the season. That put her behind Aiden Olson’s 30 points and Owen Olsen’s 26 points for the team lead.
But Atwater meant more to the Warriors than scoring points. Prior to the season, the senior changed positions from offense to defense. There she anchored a Warrior defense that allowed just 11 goals. In comparison, Brainerd scored 59 regular-season goals.
“Honestly, just because we lost two of our seniors who regularly played defense coach told me I had to step up and run the floor,” Atwater said. “I made to make sure someone was back who could take that position and get us going in the right direction during games.
“I practiced the new position a good amount before we started playing games. Once we got past that first game in January I felt pretty good with the change.”
Atwater said the team was confident going into the state tournament. One reason the captain was so confident is she was coming off a five-goal, two-assist game as she led Brainerd to an 11-0 victory over Rochester right before the state tournament.
“Honestly, I think we had some nerves just because last time we played them it was a pretty tough game,” Atwater said “We had improved so much over these last few months though that we went into it pretty well. I was a bit nervous myself, but we just kept being positive and kept our energy levels up and got it done.”
Last season, Atwtater finished with 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 total points, which was tied for second on a state runner-up team. During the state tournament, she added two goals and four assists.
During her freshman season, Atwater finished with 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 total points. COVID-19 prevented a sophomore year for Atwater.
“I loved being a captain,” Atwater said. “I loved every day with those guys. It was great being able to kind of take the lead and show the new kids how to play the game and be successful. We all improved so much it was great to be a leader and get them where they are.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Sport: Adapted floor hockey
Career highlight: Winning the state tournament
Grade-point average: 3.0
Favorite class: Psychology
Favorite food: Tacos
Favorite movie: “Pitch Perfect”
Favorite TV show: “Friends”
Favorite musician: Elton John
Favorite restaurant: Poncho & Lefty’s
Future plans: Attend the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and study human resource development
Favorite athlete: Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild wing
Parents: Tracy and Jason Atwater
Other notable performances
John Pecarich, boys’ basketball, finished with 30 points against Moorhead.
Nick Evanson, boys’ basketball, finished with 25 points against Moorhead.
Andrew Kargel, adapted floor hockey, finished with six saves in a 9-0 victory over St. Paul Humboldt and three saves in a 9-1 win over Anoka-Hennepin and 13 saves against Dakota United.
Aiden Ulness, adapted floor hockey, recorded three goals against St. Paul Humboldt.
Owen Olsen, adapted floor hockey, recorded four goals and two assists against Anoka-Hennepin.
Aiden Olsen, adapted floor hockey, scored two goals, including the game-winning goal against Dakota United.