Little Falls scoring machine Ben Hanowski and the high-flying Flyers brought their show on ice to Brainerd Area Civic Center Tuesday night.
Hanowski, a St. Cloud State recruit, who's 70 points from becoming the all-time Minnesota State High School League boys' hockey scoring leader, was limited to a second-period goal.
But the Flyers aren't only about Hanowski. Many skilled veteran teammates surround him, and that cast helped Little Falls rally for a 5-3 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Brainerd Warriors in a contest featuring 44 penalty minutes.
Joe Kaufmann (17) and Jordan Gosiak (6) collided Tuesday night during the Brainerd Warriors and Little Falls Flyers encounter at the Brainerd Civic Center. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Senior wing Riley Hirsch scored the Flyers' first goal. Senior defenseman Logan Kalis scored the go-ahead goal in the second. Senior defenseman Izaak Berglund had two assists. Senior defenseman Jordan Gosiak scored an insurance goal in the third. Senior goalie Michael Sperl made 17 saves.
"We've got a veteran club," Hanowski said. "That definitely helps in situations like we were in here where we got down in the first. We've got veteran guys who say, 'Hey, we can come back.' We battled back and did a good job the last two periods."
The Flyers, 10-0-0 and ranked second in Class 1A by the Associated Press, trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but never let up, scoring the game's last three goals and outshooting Brainerd by an overwhelming 53-20.
Little Falls scored three times in the second, during which it outshot the Warriors 28-7. The Flyers tied it 3-3 on Tommy Martin's goal at 12:04. Kalis put Little Falls ahead for the first time, 4-3, at 14:33 with a high blast under the crossbar. Gosiak's goal at 7:54 of the third gave the Flyers breathing room.
"I think we need more games like this, whether there's all the penalties or not," Flyers coach Tony Couture said. "We need to feel the pressure, we need to work hard and hopefully that's what we did."
Flyers 5, Warriors 3
The key: Little Falls scored the game's last three goals.
Conference: Brd 1-4-0, LF 4-0-0
Overall: Brd 2-7-0, LF 10-0-0
Next: Brainerd at Cloquet 7:30 p.m. Friday, LF vs. River Lakes at Richmond 7 p.m. Friday
Sperl foiled two point-blank Brainerd chances in the third.
At 9:32 he stopped Bren Smith's breakaway. About two minutes later he stymied a penalty shot by Josh Archibald.
"Any time a goalie makes a darn good save like that, that gets everybody excited," Couture said. "Michael played well all last year. He's been a starter since he was a sophomore so I didn't even have to look because he's very tough. We work on breakaways a lot. These are the reasons why we do that."
Brainerd, which has lost four straight, seized a 2-1 first-period lead on goals by Matt Pohlkamp, the first two of his varsity career.
Twenty-four seconds after Pohlkamp's first goal, Hirsch tied it 1-1, separating himself from Brainerd defenders and beat goalie Reid Mimmack, who finished with 48 saves.
Josh Archibald's power-play goal was Brainerd's only score of the second and put the Warriors in front 3-2.
"We had the lead three different times in the game," Warriors coach Jim Archibald said. "Unfortunately, we made some mental mistakes again, which cost us a couple very important goals.
"Again, we got outshot and Reid played very well for us again. If we capitalize on a couple of our chances, if we capitalize on the breakaway, capitalize on the penalty shot, maybe it gives us a little life. We just kind of fell back into a comfort zone and that we can't do."
Little Falls 1 3 1 - 5
Brainerd 2 1 0 - 3
First period: Brd-Matt Pohlkamp (Sean Halvorson) 5:01; LF-Riley Hirsch (Logan Kalis) 5:24; Brd-Matt Pohlkamp (Josh Archibald, Brett Jenkins) 7:27
Second period: LF-Ben Hanowski (Hirsch, Izaak Berglund) 5:54; Brd-Archibald (Bren Smith, Colby Ring) ppg 9:56; LF-Tommy Martin (Jordan Gosiak) 12:04; LF-Kalis (Berglund) 14:33
Third period: LF-Gosiak, 7:54
Shots on goal: LF 10-28-15-53, Brd 6-7-7-20
Goalies: LF-Michael Sperl (17 saves), Brd-Reid Mimmack (48 saves)
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.