Travis Winter of the St. Cloud Tech boys' hockey team receives considerable attention as one of the state's leading scorers with 59 points.
The Tigers demonstrated in Thursday's 3-1 victory over the Brainerd Warriors the gifted Winter isn't the only weapon in their offensive arsenal.
While Winter went scoreless, junior forward John Swanson scored the first two goals of the Central Lakes Conference game at Brainerd Area Civic Center, his 23rd and 24th of the season, helping Tech improve to 12-0-0 in the CLC, 20-2-1 overall.
"When he's on he can generate some offense," Tech coach Chad Hommerding said of Swanson. "I think he's probably been our top scorer in our last four or five games. He's got great speed. He can really fire the puck. When he does, it adds a nice element to our team."
Shots on goal was an element of the game which Tech dominated. It outshot the Warriors 37-18 after Brainerd maintained a 12-9 edge after the first period.
"When they put 12 up on the board, we talked to our guys that they had to start finishing some checks," Hommerding said. "Brainerd came out strong in the first and had a lot of good opportunities. The only reason it was a 0-0 game was our goalie, Vincent Wheeler, made some good saves."
Brainerd coach Ty Eigner reacted in the first period of Thursday's game.
The Warriors had many promising chances among their 18 shots but were hampered by seven penalties.
"I was pleased with the way we came out and played in the first period," Warriors coach Ty Eigner said, "but in the second period we had four penalties. It's impossible to play consistently when you have eight minutes of power-play time to kill."
Brainerd had to kill off two 5-on-3 disadvantages that lasted 69 seconds. For more than 2 1/2 minutes, it was on the short end of two 4-on-3 advantages. Surprisingly, the Warriors yielded only one goal on six power plays.
A scoreless opening period featured at least three Brainerd opportunities. Jason Roberts went around the Tigers' defense but shot wide. Gregg Day fired a sharp wrist shot when the Warriors were short-handed that Wheeler stopped and later fired a screaming slap shot that an outstretched Wheeler gloved.
"We didn't capitalize early," Eigner said. "That's kind of been our story all year. When we get a bounce, or make a good play early, everybody kind of feeds off that. If we don't get a bounce, and take advantage of an opportunity early, it can be a struggle."
Swanson scored twice in the second, during which the Tigers built an 18-4 margin in shots. At 6:30, he stickhandled between the Warriors' defense and tapped a rebound past goalie Nick Whichello.
More than four minutes later, Swanson's slap shot trickled into the net off one of Whichello's pads in a 4-on-3 power-play situation.
Brainerd scored at 13:22 of the second when Joe Holden tapped in a perfect pass from Mark Germain in a 2-on-1 rush.
Tech closed the scoring at 11:06 of the third. Keith Grant blistered a high shot off Whichello, Tommy Smith collected the rebound and scored.
Warriors note: Eigner said defenseman Chris Peluso, who suffered a shoulder injury Tuesday against Alexandria, may not return until the section quarterfinals Feb. 18.
St. Cloud Tech 0 2 1 -- 3
Brainerd 0 1 0 -- 1
First period -- No scoring
Second period -- SCT-John Swanson (Aaron Poole) 6:30; SCT-Swanson (Lance Wheeler) 10:44 ppg; B-Joe Holden (Mark Germain, Josh Hanske) 13:22
Third period -- SCT-Tommy Smith (Keith Grant) 11:06
Shots on goal -- SCT 9 18 10 -- 37; B 12 4 2 -- 18
Goalies -- SCT-Vincent Wheeler (17 saves); B-Nick Whichello (34 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- SCT 1-6, B 0-3
Conference -- SCT 12-0-0, B 8-5-0. Overall -- SCT 20-2-1, B 11-11-1. Next game -- Brainerd at Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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