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Warriors Athlete of Week: Proper position more of an advantage for 'Big Howie'

Josh Howieson Sport: Hockey Position: Left wing Year: Senior Age: 18 Height: 6-5 Weight: 260 Career highlight: Playing football at Metrodome sophomore year Other sports: Football Grade-point average: 3.7 Favorite class: Sports and Fitness with Mr...

Brainerd Warrior forward Josh Howieson (left) and teammate Happy Rivard pause at practice Wednesday. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
Brainerd Warrior forward Josh Howieson (left) and teammate Happy Rivard pause at practice Wednesday. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)

Josh Howieson

Sport: Hockey

Position: Left wing

Year: Senior

Age: 18

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Height: 6-5

Weight: 260

Career highlight: Playing football at Metrodome sophomore year

Other sports: Football

Grade-point average: 3.7

Favorite class: Sports and Fitness with Mrs. Skogen

Favorite food: Mac and cheese

Favorite movie: "Interview"

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Favorite TV show: "The Office"

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing

Future plans: Play college football, possibly major in engineering

Favorite hockey player: Thomas Vanek of the Minnesota Wild

Parents: Calvin and LeAnn Howieson

At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, you might think Josh Howieson would be a lumbering, intimidating defenseman and an enforcer.

That's far from his role with the Brainerd Warrior boys hockey team. While he is an imposing individual, about three inches taller on skates, the left wing led the team in scoring last season with 10 goals and 20 points. He opened this season Saturday with a hat trick and assist in a 7-4 victory against Buffalo. Howieson added his fourth goal of the season in a win at Fergus Falls Tuesday night.

Howieson said being in proper position is more of an advantage than size.

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"Being 6-5 and 260 I'm not as fast as those little kids skating down the ice," he said, "but if I can use my body and put myself in the right position - it doesn't really matter if you're the fastest kid on the ice. If you don't know where you're supposed to be, you won't make plays. That's what I use to my advantage."

Warriors head coach Dave Aus said Howieson presents a matchup problem for opposing teams because he's athletic and difficult to move.

"The reality is he's playing against some guys that he outweighs by about 100 pounds, then you add his reach," Aus said. "He did a nice job Saturday turning his back side and using that to protect the puck which is a huge advantage that other guys don't have.

"Josh is dangerous when he gets around the net because he can shoot and protect the puck. Puck protection is so important now. It's a huge advantage to have guys like that."

Playing on the first line with senior Cole Ball and sophomore Matt Fischer, Howieson scored the season's first goal in the opening period at Buffalo. Fischer collected the first assist on the goal, Ball the second.

"Cole made a nice pass to Matt when the defense took him and it was a 2-on-0," Howieson said. "Matt made a nice pass to me backdoor and I had an easy shot. It was a good goal to get us going."

Howieson's second goal was the eventual game-winner as it gave the Warriors a 5-4 edge in the third period. Assists went to Fischer and Luke Wiskow.

"We threw it in front of the net, I got a pass, I shot it, Matt got the rebound, another rebound came out and I put it in the top left corner," Howieson said.

He completed his first varsity hat trick with an empty netter, scoring from his own blue line, with 44 seconds left.

Ball and Fischer each finished with a goal and two assists against Buffalo.

"I love playing with both of them," Howieson said. "I'm there to put the puck in the net, be in the right spot. Those two both work really hard. They're both very good at knowing where to be on the ice. We all work well together.

"When I get the puck on my stick, I've got to put the puck in the net or make a good play. I think that's what I'm good at, and forechecking, keeping it in the zone."

Aus said Howieson moves "pretty well" for an individual his size and his skills complement those of Ball and Fischer.

"The other two guys have top-end speed," he said. "If Josh can get into a shooting area, they're good enough to get him the puck and he has the potential to score a lot. He's on our power play, he's right in the middle so he can be dangerous there as well.

"He has such a good release. I can think of maybe two other guys I coached who probably could shoot it quicker and heavier than he does. I've had a lot of guys who can play. He's got a top-end release and shot.

"I've mentioned this to him - and I know he wants to play football - that if he focused on this game it's really unlimited what he could do. I really believe that. Honestly I think he could be a pro player if he worked on (hockey). He does some things you can't teach. Other things he has perfected."

Howieson appreciates the compliments, but hasn't considered a hockey career after high school. He has preferred walk-on offers from a few Football Championship Subdivision schools and offers from a few Division II colleges.

"Football's always been what I wanted to do," Howieson said. "It's nice to know (Aus thinks) I would be able to do that. I love playing high school hockey.

"With football, there are 90 guys on a team and it's tough to get to know each and every one of them. When I walk in the hockey locker room, it's nice to know each and every one of them. The friends and the bonds I make there it's amazing even if (hockey is) not where I want to go in the future."

Brainerd finished 9-17-1 in Howieson's first full varsity season and is hoping to take a step forward in Aus' second season this winter.

"Coming to practice every day you can see it in everyone's eyes that we're here to win," Howieson said. "The goal for everyone on the team is to get to the state tournament. It's a totally different atmosphere than we had last year. The whole team has one common goal and we're working together to get there."

Other notable efforts:

• Kobe Ahonen, boys basketball, scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds vs. Grand Rapids and added 15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Rogers.

• Michael Russell, boys basketball, scored 20 points vs. Rogers.

• Kylee Heurung, girls basketball, scored 32 points vs. Moorhead.

• Eric Stout, boys hockey, collected five points vs. Fergus Falls.

• Jack Evans, boys hockey, scored two goals and added two assists vs. Fergus Falls.

• Brad Patnode, Cole Kubesh and Braden Kramer, wrestling, captured titles at the Mound Westonka Turkey Burn Invitational.

• Olivia King, girls hockey, stopped 19 shots in shutout vs. Moorhead.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

Related Topics: BOYS HOCKEY
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