Katie Diiro picked a favorable spot to score her first goal of the season.
With the Brainerd and Detroit Lakes girls' hockey teams tied 2-2 midway through the final period, the senior wing snapped in a rebound to give the Warriors a 3-2 victory Thursday at Brainerd Area Civic Center.
Defender Hannah Impola took the initial shot that was stopped by Lakers goalie Kara Meyer. But Diiro was waiting in the slot and banged the rebound past Meyer.
"It must have hit (Meyer's) stick or something," Diiro said. "It came right back out, I shot it, and somehow it went in. It was really close to her stomach. I usually hit it right into their stomach. I don't have a good shot, so it was kind of amazing."
The victory was Brainerd's fifth straight and lifted its overall mark to 10-3-1.
Diiro's goal, and a power-play score by Abby Rehberger about 3 1/2 minutes earlier, enabled Brainerd to overcome a 2-1 deficit. The Warriors had a difficult time keeping up in the second period with the skilled Lakers, who outshot Brainerd 19-15 in all, including 8-3 in the second when Detroit Lakes scored twice.
"At the beginning of the season first periods were bad for us," Warriors coach Jim Ernster said. "When we were down at the Christmas tournament (at Blaine) we had nine strong periods. We didn't mentally check out during one period.
"That was our concern coming back: 'Will we be able to keep it up and show that we've matured as a team?' Taking the second period off shows we still haven't matured as a team, which is disappointing 14 games into the season because those are things that have to be taken care of."
The Warriors took care of the puck in the opening period, seizing a 1-0 lead on a goal by Aani Rangen at 7:15. Rehberger skated along the boards, was pinched off by a defender, then passed to Rangen in front and the freshman one-timed it into the net.
Mandy Hanson played another sturdy game in net for Brainerd. The only Lakers to beat her were Ashley Johnson, 32 seconds into the second period with an on-ice shot through the five-hole, and Maria Tulensalo, who tucked the puck into the short side about two minutes later.
Hanson finished with 17 saves and made some nice stops to thwart end-to-end rushes by standout junior defender Gretchen Norby.
"Anytime you've got a goaltender like Mandy Hanson you know you're going to be in every game," Ernster said. "She gives us a chance to win most every night. She's just been everything we expected of her. She's a leader in the locker room, a leader during practice, a leader during games. It's a credit to her hard work and maturity as a goaltender this year that we're like that.
"Our seniors have done a fantastic job in general. We've got six freshmen, and a lot of sophomores, so there's a lot of maturity that has to take place. Our seniors are doing a nice job. They're great leaders, good role models for those other kids."
Detroit Lakes 0 2 0 -- 2
Brainerd 1 0 2 -- 3
First period -- B-Aani Rangen (Abby Rehberger, Alyssa Lewandowski) 7:15
Second period -- DL-Ashley Johnson (Kelsey Zurn, Sarah Gravelle) :32; DL-Maria Tulensalo, 2:37
Third period -- B-Rehberger (Erin Holznagel) 4:56 ppg; B-Katie Diiro (Hannah Impola) 7:37
Shots on goal -- DL 5-8-6--19; B 4-3-8--15
Goalies -- DL-Kara Meyer (12 saves); B-Mandy Hanson (17 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- DL 0-1, B 1-3
Overall -- DL 10-5-0, B 10-3-1. Next game -- Brainerd at St. Cloud Apollo/Cathedral 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
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