The Brainerd Warriors adaptive floor hockey team entered Monday night's faceoff with Maple Grove knowing it would play one of the state's finest teams.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, that notion had been cemented, as the 79ers defeated the Warriors 7-3.
Maple Grove sprinted to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The second goal was assisted by 79ers captain Jade Janos, whose mother, Terry Ventura, wife of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, watched from the stands.
"They played wonderfully well," Terry Ventura said of Maple Grove. "It's a win, which is always good."
Brainerd answered with a goal in the second period to cut the deficit to one. After that, it was all Maple Grove, which wore down the Warriors with a deeper bench. The 79ers scored five consecutive goals to take a 7-1 lead in the third.
Chris Jordan, the smallest Warrior, finished the contest by scoring two goals. One of those came via a top-shelf rocket launched from midcourt.
Brainerd's Eric Goodew (left) watched as Maple Grove's Jade Janos prepared to send a shot toward the goal Monday. Janos is the daughter of former Gov. Jesse Ventura. Her mother, Terry Ventura, was on hand to cheer her daughter's team.
The Warriors used a small rotation in an attempt to keep enough offense on the floor to keep up with the 79ers.
"They wore us down," Brainerd coach Bruce Thompson said. "We kept working hard even though we were tired."
The Warriors' offense, near dormant for the game's first 40 minutes, couldn't figure out an answer to Maple Grove goaltender Matt Wimmergren.
"He is like having two players out there," Thompson said. "He could move faster than any player, walking or sitting."
The Warriors, also complying with the sport's rule that each team must have two players in wheelchairs on the floor, have no motorized wheelchairs.
"We can't govern what kind of chair they use," Thompson said. "(Wimmergren) was a real factor in the game. He could really control the puck."
While Wimmergren helped stifle the Warriors' sticks, teammate Scott Bierbaum made them pay on defense, scoring two goals to go along with two assists.
The state's former first lady, for one, was pleased saying, "We usually fall apart in the third period, so this was good."
An equally optimistic Thompson looked at his glass being half-full.
"Maple Grove is one of the top three or four teams in the state, and we will certainly use this as a good learning experience," said Thompson.
Maple Grove 2 1 4-- 7
Brainerd 0 1 2-- 3
First period -- MG-Lindsay Langham 1:03; MG-Scott Bierbaum (Jade Janos) 6:41
Second period -- B-Doug Ream (Eric Goodew) 8:36; MG-Eric Duncan (Scott Bierbaum) 11:28
Third period -- MG-Travis Opsahl (Bierbaum) :51; MG-Bierbaum (Duncan, Matt Wimmergren) 4:38; MG-Opsahl (Bierbaum) 6:57; MG-Duncan (Caleb Rasmussen) 10:31 B-Chris Jordan, 11:30; B-Jordan (Bergen Hanson) 14:42
Shots on goal -- MG 24; B 20
Goalies -- B-Ashley Demo (17 saves); MG-Matt Wimmergren (17 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- MG 0-1 B 0-1
Overall -- B 2-2. Next game -- Brainerd hosts Dakota United 1 p.m. Saturday at Riverside.
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