This one could haunt the Brainerd Warriors boys' hockey team at section seeding time.
Brainerd was playing a Section 7, Class 2A game against a quality opponent, the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks, Tuesday on home ice, at Brainerd Area Civic Center.
The Warriors seized 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 leads but surrendered three consecutive goals in the third period, allowing Grand Rapids to escape with a 6-5 victory.
"Every time we scored they had an answer, they responded," Warriors coach Ty Eigner said. "Giving them credit is deserved, but some of the things we did to give them goals ... passing a puck right on a guy's stick in the slot right after you score a goal ... a puck slides under your stick at the offensive blue line and a guy gets a break. Grand Rapids didn't quit, to their credit.
"Like we told (the team) ... they're not NHLers, they're not college players, they're not junior (league) players, they're high school kids. But, in order for us to win, everybody's got to show up. We had some guys who didn't play the way they're capable of playing. In high school hockey, especially our team, if everybody doesn't play well and play hard, we're not going to win."
With Brainerd leading 4-3 in the third after a Geoff Roberts goal at 6:55, the Thunderhawks rattled off three scores in 3 1/2 minutes to break the Warriors' collective backs.
Brainerd's Mike Baker (9) poked at a loose puck in the second period against Grand Rapids Tuesday.
Tom Stunyo started Grand Rapids' flurry, tying it at 7:30.
Alex Goligowski netted the eventual game-winner a little more than two minutes later. The senior defenseman, who's being recruited by several Division I programs, including Minnesota, whose coach Don Lucia was in attendance Tuesday, split the Warriors' defense and beat goalie Nick Whichello with a high wrist shot.
"The kid can play," Thunderhawks coach Bruce LaRogue said of Goligowski. "He's just a huge asset to our team. Keeping him here, and out of Juniors, they're certainly knocking on the door quite heavily. Obviously, he's an exceptional leader on the blue line for us."
Ninety seconds after Goligowski's goal, Stunyo put the Thunderhawks ahead 6-4.
With 51 seconds remaining, Chris Peluso drew Brainerd within the final score, snapping a wrist shot that ricocheted into the net off goalie Andrew Davis.
On the ensuing faceoff, Brainerd defenseman Carl Sneep burst through traffic and broke in on Davis but shot over the cage.
Grand Rapids 6, Warriors 5
The key: BHS allowed three consecutive goals in the third period.
Next: vs. River Lakes at Richmond, 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Brainerd pulled Whichello in the final 20 seconds in favor of a sixth attacker but was unable to capitalize.
Overshadowed in defeat was a hat trick by the Warriors' Gregg Day. The senior wing put the Warriors ahead 1-0 with an alert pass from Kiel Browne, 2-1 with an unassisted score and 3-2 on a rebound of a Sneep blast.
Brainerd's hopes for the No. 1 section seed were dealt a setback. The Warriors are 1-1-1 with section games remaining at home Jan. 17 against Duluth East and Jan. 24 at Greenway.
"I don't know that we can get the No. 1 seed now," Eigner said. "I think that's going to be very hard to do. Our goal has got to be to get that No. 2 seed. The difference between No. 2 and No. 3 is pretty significant."
Grand Rapids 1 1 4 -- 6
Brainerd 1 1 3 -- 5
First period -- B-Gregg Day (Kiel Browne, Morgan Shepherd) 13:42; GR-Mark Columbus (Joe Stejskal) 13:57
Second period -- B-Day, :51; GR-Alex Goligowski (Austin Tavis) 7:42
Third period -- B-Day (Carl Sneep, Shepherd) :28; GR-Luke Francisco, 1:55; B-Geoff Roberts (Sneep) 6:55; GR-Tom Stunyo (Tony Clafton, Tavis) 7:30; GR-Goligowski (Stunyo) 9:36; GR-Stunyo (Columbus, Kyle Ous) 11:00; B-Chris Peluso (Sneep) 16:09
Shots on goal -- GR 12-4-12--28; B 6-11-5--22
Goalies -- GR-Andrew Davis (17 saves); B-Nick Whichello (22 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- GR 0-2, B 0-2
Overall -- GR 6-6-1, B 6-3-1. Next game -- Brainerd vs. River Lakes at Richmond 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
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