It's not how many goals you score. It's when you score them.
Ben House entered Saturday's boys' hockey game against the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles with three goals and three assists. He picked an opportune time to score what might have been the most important goal of his career, one that helped the Brainerd Warriors nip the seventh-ranked Eagles 4-3 in overtime.
After Warrior goalie Grant VanWyngeeren stonewalled Apollo captain Chris Harrington on a breakaway early in overtime, House and Henrik Impola started a 2-on-1 rush at Eagles goalie Erick Lindberg. Streaking down the left wing House took a pass from Impola and drilled a low shot that banged off the right pipe and into the net 3:05 into overtime.
"All week I've been hitting that shot," House said. "The coaches told me to just get a chance in the game. I knew it was time to put that shot away. I was just there at the right time. Anybody could have played it but I saw the net and I had to hit it home."
The win lifted Brainerd's Central Lakes Conference record to 5-2-0 and its overall mark to 14-3-1. It was the Warriors' fifth straight win.
"It seems like good things happen to these kids," Brainerd coach Ty Eigner said. "Grant made some huge saves. We get a bounce, we get a 2-on-1 and another guy capitalizes.
"Looking at this week Brian Reese goes down, (Justin) Gutzman goes down and Tyler John is down. We have had guys step up time after time. Tonight we get goals from Ben Midge, Shane Huber and House. They are all chipping in. It means a lot to be able to do that. That's what teams that go a long way have. That's a luxury (good teams) have."
The loss snapped a 5-game win streak for Apollo, which slipped to 8-2-0 in conference play and 16-3-0 overall. The Eagles' only losses have been to Roseau and Brainerd twice.
"We started playing with some urgency in the third period," Apollo coach Pat Forte said. "It's tough to play one period and win a game. We were lucky to be in it at 3-3.
"We didn't play very well. This was our third game in a week. Our guys were tired. We've got about six guys out from our first four lines. Our kids gave it all they had.
"We have been ranked in the top 10 all year long but this was not a top 10-ranked team on the ice tonight."
In the first period the Eagles looked like a ranked team as they seized a 2-1 lead and outshot Brainerd 10-5. The Eagles' Adam Waldorf capitalized on two Brainerd penalties to score power-play goals, the first of which was in a 5-on-3 advantage. Sandwiched between Waldorf's goals was Huber's deflection that got past Lindberg.
Just 50 seconds into the second period Brainerd tied the score on a power-play goal by Colin Ryan. About two minutes later Matt Bakker scored for Apollo to give the Eagles their last lead, 3-2. Brainerd's Ben Midge scored at 10:22 to tie the game.
VanWyngeeren finished with 31 saves. He kept the Warriors in a game in which they were outshot 33-26.
"I have not been around forever but I have never heard of a high school team that has three goalies who can start any night," Eigner said. "Nobody has two. I don't know who our No. 1 is. Our No. 1 is the guy who is starting that night."
St. Cloud Apollo 2 1 0 0 --3
Brainerd 1 2 0 1 --4
First period -- SCA-Adam Waldorf (Chris Harrington, Brandon Schwartz) 4:28 ppg; B-Shane Huber (Nate Kub, Tim Conboy) 8:48; SCA-Waldorf (Harrington) 10:56 ppg
Second period -- B-Colin Ryan (J.P. Platisha) :50 ppg; SCA-Matt Bakker (Jesse Weaver) 2:54; B-Ben Midge (Shane Medin, Ryan) 10:22
Third period -- No scoring
Overtime -- B-Ben House (Henrik Impola) 3:05
Shots on goal -- SCA 10-12-10-1--33; B 5-13-6-2--26
Goalies -- DCA-Erick Lindberg (22 saves); B-Grant VanWyngeeren (30 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- SCA 2-6, B 1-6
Conference -- SCA 8-2-0, B 5-2-0. Overall -- SCA 16-3-0, B 14-3-1. Next game -- Brainerd at Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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