Willmar Cardinals goalie Baylie Young thwarted the Brainerd Flying Warriors through regulation, kicking, blocking and gloving 28 shots.
The Flying Warriors finally solved Young at 2:58 of overtime. Lizzy Desrocher took a pass from Sierra Hanowski, stickhandled in the slot toward Young, deked Young left and scored right with a wicked wrist shot for a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Thursday night at Brainerd Area Civic Center.
“We won the faceoff,” Desrocher said. “I got a pass, went down and beat the goalie.”
The hard-earned win was B/LF’s 16th of the season, tying the program record set in 2000-01, in the final home game of the regular season. On Tuesday, B/LF had wrapped up the first Central Lakes Conference title in program history.
“It’s one of the greatest experiences I think that I will have in my whole life,” Desrocher said. “This is the greatest thing ever. There are no words that can describe this.”
B/LF, which has won four straight, closes the regular season Saturday at Moorhead. If the Flying Warriors win they should get a top three seed in the Section 8-2A playoffs.
“We’re going to go into it and play very hard,” Desrocher said. “We’re going to take it seriously. We’re going to have a hard practice (Friday). It’s exciting.”
Section seedings will be determined Wednesday. Entering Thursday’s games, Roseau was 5-0-1 in section play, the Flying Warriors 7-1-2, North Wright County 4-1-1 and Sartell-Sauk Rapids 5-3-1.
“Our goal was to get a home seed,” Flying Warriors coach Rod Peltoma said, “and I think we should. If we don’t there’s something wrong.
. I certainly believe we’re a No. 1 or No. 2, I really do.”
In overtime, the Flying Warriors outshot Willmar 5-1 and maintained constant pressure to finish with a 33-15 edge in shots.
“I liked the effort in overtime,” Peltoma said. “It shows character for our team to decide we’re going to win this one. I think (Willmar) may have gotten one shot in overtime. Our girls decided to take charge and played very aggressively.”
Through regulation B/LF threw 14 more shots at Young than Willmar did at the Flying Warriors’ Kierra Howard, who finished with 15 saves in her fourth shutout of the season.
But the Flying Warriors’ offense was bottled up by a young Willmar team that listed just two seniors on the roster. B/LF was hampered by the fact it put Willmar on the power play five times.
B/LF didn’t have an easy time with Willmar this season, winning 2-1 at Willmar on Dec. 21.
“They played very hard,” Peltoma said. “We knew they would certainly want to knock us off. At times I thought they were more aggressive, they were getting to loose pucks quicker than we were. They were outplaying us a little bit. We talked between periods about trying to play a little more tenaciously and not lose those little battles.
“I think we picked our game up. I was really proud of our defense, they played extremely well. We had good gap control. We were moving the puck up the ice.
“It wasn’t that our forwards weren’t having opportunities, we had over 30 shots. I just don’t think our shots were good shots. I think at times we made (Young) look good. We shot right at her, sometimes we were in way too tight, other times we shot wide.”
B/LF outshot the Cardinals 14-6 in a scoreless third and almost won it with 24 seconds left. Hailey Joyce passed to Emily Stark but her shot went just wide of Young.
Willmar 0 0 0 0 — 0
Brainerd 0 0 0 1 — 1
First period: No scoring
Second period: No scoring
Third period: No scoring
Overtime: BLF-Lizzy Desrocher (Sierra Hanowski) 2:58
Shots on goal: Wil 5-3-6-1—15, BLF 8-6-14-5—33
Goalies: Wil-Baylie Young (32 saves), BLF-Kierra Howard (15 saves)
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.