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Is this the year the Brainerd Warrior boys hockey team follows the lead set by the girls program last season and plays in its first Class 2A state tournament? Followthepuck.com, a website devoted to Minnesota State High School League hockey, seems to think so. It projects Brainerd to win its first Section 8-2A title this winter.
Following four consecutive seasons with double-digit victory totals, including 17 wins the last two seasons, the Brainerd Warriors will reload this winter. The Warriors return just one starter—senior Courtney Russell—from a team that finished 17-10 after losing to fifth-seeded Buffalo in the quarterfinals of the Section 8-4A tournament. Only three other players have played varsity minutes. Ten underclassmen populate the 13-player varsity roster.
Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen of Brainerd was a big winner. So were the St. Cloud State Huskies as the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame Faceoff Classic skated into Brainerd Tuesday, Nov. 20. The contest raised about $3,500 for the soup kitchen and about 1,500 fans watched the Huskies blank the Bemidji State University Beavers 3-0 at Essentia Health Sports Center. "I thought it was a fantastic evening," said Doug Johnson of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum and Let's Play Hockey newspaper. "It's so great for girls and women's hockey and to raise money for a fantastic charity. It's also good exposure for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. All in all, I thought it was fantastic."
A celebratory atmosphere will accompany the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame Faceoff Classic Tuesday, Nov. 20, at Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd. Before the game, which pits the Bemidji State University Beavers against the St. Cloud State University Huskies, Pastor Bob Evans of the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in Brainerd will drop the ceremonial first puck. Game proceeds will go to Sharing Bread, an organization helping families in need by serving hot meals seven days a week. Following the contest, 1980 gold medal U.S. Olympian Buzz Schneider will present the Faceoff Classic trophy to the winning team.
Rocori, Duluth East, Elk River, Bemidji and Alexandria will furnish the opposition when the Brainerd Warrior dance team opens its competitive season at Brainerd High School at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens. Student passes will be accepted. Children under 5 will be admitted free. To get a jump on their competitive season, the Warriors performed at the St. Cloud Tech Invite Show Nov. 9. Cindy Clough, beginning her 43rd season as the Warriors' head coach, said the invite was a fundraising show, but gave Brainerd a chance to get out on the floor.
Eighth-grader Izzy Olson stands less than 5 feet tall but that height in no way measures her level of intensity on a diving board. "She's tiny," Brainerd Warrior diving coach Mary Streiff says, "but she dives with a ferocious bark. She's not to be messed with in her element on the board." Olson's ferocity was evident during the Section 8-2A swimming and diving meet at St. Cloud Tech where she qualified for this week's state meet at the University of Minnesota. A third-place finish garnered her one of the section's four spots at state.
Of the five Brainerd Warriors who qualified for the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet this week, diver Izzy Olson might have the best shot at placing in the top 16. The eighth-grader qualified for her first state trip with a third-place finish in last weekend's Section 8-2A meet. She scored 353.35 points to secure one of the section's four state diving spots. Warrior diving coach Mary Streiff said Olson didn't attend last year's state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center where Brainerd's Cami Harmer placed 11th. Streiff said Olson and her parents considered making the trip, but decided against it.
When the puck drops for the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors opener at Cloquet Tuesday, Nov. 13, every opponent will be aiming to beat BLF.
When Brainerd's leading rusher Joe Klang suffered what turned out to be a season-ending injury in the first quarter of Game Seven, it was an opportunity for another Warrior to step up. Ben Staehling seized that opportunity and ran with it particularly in the Section 8-5A playoffs. In the 8-5A semifinals, the junior running back charged to 132 yards and a touchdown in a 35-7 win against Alexandria. A week later, he rambled to a banner night with 200 yards on 32 carries and a TD in a 25-22 loss to Bemidji in the 8-5A championship game.
BEMIDJI—It was a championship effort but the Brainerd Warriors fell a field goal short. The second-seeded Warriors and top-seeded Bemidji Lumberjacks went toe-to-toe for 48 minutes before the Lumberjacks emerged with a 25-22 victory in the Section 8-5A championship game Friday, Nov. 2, at Chet Anderson Stadium.