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Moorhead 3, Warriors 2 Key: Top-seeded Spuds scored all three of their goals in a span of 2:35 of the second period to win the Section 8-2A title. Overall: Brd 19-9, M 21-6-1 BEMIDJI—The Brainerd Warrior boys hockey team had many great memories in the almost 1,500 minutes they played this season, but it's a span of 2:35 that they would like to forget.
Brainerd/Little Falls' appearance in the Class 2A state championship serves as a motivational boost for outstate girls' hockey programs. The Warriors, who were edged by top-seeded Edina 4-3 in double overtime in the state title game Saturday, Feb. 23, became the first northern team to reach the Class 2A final since Grand Rapids/Greenway in 2008. It should be noted that Outstate teams were well represented in this year's Class 1A tournament as Warroad was runner-up and Fergus Falls defeated Rochester Lourdes 4-2 in the consolation final.
The Brainerd Warrior are hoping to build off the momentum of the Brainerd/Little Falls girls' hockey success when they take the ice against Moorhead for the Section 8-2A championship game at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. "Our players have supported the girls," Warrior coach Dave Aus said of the Warrior girls' Class 2A state runner-up finish. "And the girls have encouraged our boys to follow their success (and make it to state) in a fun, lighthearted way. The relationship has been good for both teams."
ST. PAUL—Olivia King's admirable goaltending for Brainerd/Little Falls was the talk of the tournament, but a different Olivia stole the spotlight when Olivia Swaim scored in double overtime to give top-seeded Edina a 4-3 win over the No. 3 Warriors in the Class 2A state tournament Saturday, Feb. 23, at Xcel Energy Center. King stopped 51 shots, but she didn't have a chance to stop a rebound shot by Swaim at 2:20 of the second overtime. B/LF ends its most successful season in program history with a 25-5-1 record and a state runner-up finish.
ST. PAUL—The scenario was similar, but the result was much different this time for the Brainerd/Little Falls girls hockey team.
ST. PAUL—An unforgettable winning goal led to a milestone victory for Brainerd/Little Falls as the Warriors earned the first state tournament win in program history with a 4-0 shutout over the White Bear Lake Bears in the Class 2A state quarterfinals Thursday, Feb. 21, at Xcel Energy Center. That memorable goal came just 5:51 into the game when senior Cheyenne Abear took a pass off the boards from Gabbie Smith and moved around a defenseman, skated in alone and backhanded a shot past a stretched out WBL goaltender Calla Frank to make it 1-0.
Goals will likely be scarce when the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors face the White Bear Lake Bears in the Class 2A state quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. That offensive shortage can be attributed to the stellar senior goaltending matchup between the Warriors' Olivia King and the Bears' Calla Frank, who have both played five varsity seasons and combined for 141 wins, 36 shutouts and made more than 5,500 saves.
The players, especially the seniors, on the third-seeded Brainerd hockey didn't want the season to end with a playoff loss. But, ironically it was the Warriors' only freshman, Eric Pohlkamp, who scored the winning goal in the 4-3 comeback victory over the No. 6 Bemidji Lumberjacks in the Section 8-2A quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Essentia Health Sports Center. Pohlkamp's power-play deflection off Mason Kruse's slap shot flipped over Bemidji goaltender Broc Waldhausen and into the net with 2:02 remaining to give the Warriors their first lead of the game. The Lumberjacks pulled their goalie in the final minute, but didn't get a quality scoring chance against winning goaltender Luke Saiko.
The top-seeded and defending champion Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors (22-4-1 overall) and North Wright County River Hawks (22-5) hockey teams have similar records heading into the Section 8-2A championship game 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Runestone Arena in Alexandria.
Brainerd/Little Falls girls hockey coach Jim Ernster wasn't sure what to think when he heard "hooting and hollering" coming from the inside of his team's locker room during the second-period intermission of a 1-1 tie with No. 4 Sartell/Sauk Rapids in the Section 8-2A semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Essentia Health Sports Center. "I was concerned they were wasting energy," Ernster said, whose squad is the top seed and defending section champion, "but they actually found some serious resolve and energy. They found a way to motivate themselves."