Two of the better girls' hockey players in Section 8, Class 2A will showcase their skills when the seventh-seeded Brainerd Warriors play at the No. 2 Bemidji Lumberjacks in the quarterfinals of the section tournament Friday night.
Brainerd's Erin Holznagel, one of 10 candidates for the prestigious Ms. Hockey Award, and Bemidji's Tara Hiscock, one of the state's top scorers, hope to lead their teams to the section semifinals Feb. 17 at Brainerd Area Civic Center.
Holznagel, a defender, leads Brainerd (11-12-1) in scoring with 21 goals and 34 points. She has signed to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
"It's a terrific honor for her," Warriors coach Jim Ernster said. "It's so incredibly difficult for an outstate player to get noticed, which makes this all the more neat. If you're an outstate player you not only have to meet expectations, you have to go above and beyond expectations to get noticed."
According to Varsity Online, Hiscock has 27 goals and 39 points for the 17-9-0 Lumberjacks.
"She's one who creates most of the problems when she's out on the ice," Ernster said of the senior forward. "She's one of the better skaters I've seen in the last 3-4 years. She's very shifty, and can handle the puck extremely well."
Ernster said Bemidji compliments Hiscock with other talented players.
"They have three solid lines that all move the puck well," Ernster said. "One of the things that separates Bemidji from other teams is they play good team hockey.
"There has been a trend in girls' hockey where one or two girls dominate. That hasn't been Bemidji's style the last few years. They try to incorporate all five girls on the ice, which makes them more threatening."
The Lumberjacks' goalie tandem makes them a threat to win the section, with senior Ashley Shanahan and sophomore Lauren Bradel. Shanahan has a save percentage of 0.90 and a goals-against average of 1.96. Bradel has a 0.94 save percentage and 0.97 GAA.
On Jan. 5, Brainerd lost 5-0 at Bemidji as Hiscock scored two goals and Bradel made 14 saves.
"After the first period they were up 1-0, and shots were like 7-7," Ernster said. "We had 3-4 good scoring chances the first 10 minutes of the period. In the second and third periods I told our girls it looked like we sort of woke up and realized this is Bemidji and we backed off a little bit. We gave up 16 shots to our two in the second, 14 to our four in the third.
"Overall, if we can sustain our effort, like we did against Grand Rapids, and play like we have over the last half-dozen games, we will very much have a chance to compete against Bemidji."
Boys' basketball -- Brainerd (3-14) has lost its last nine games. It plays at St. Cloud Apollo Thursday, hosts Moorhead 7:30 p.m. Saturday and plays Tuesday at Rocori. Freshman Zach Eastman leads in scoring (11.5) and senior Justin Mueller leads in rebounding (5.7).
Floor hockey -- The Warriors (5-3) host Anoka Thursday at Riverside Elementary. Adam Thiel is the leading scorer with 24 goals and 36 points.
Girls' basketball -- Brainerd (11-8) plays Friday at Sauk Rapids and hosts Cloquet Tuesday. Megan Arns leads in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (7.6).
Gymnastics -- The Warriors (8-0), ranked fifth in Class 2A, attempt to complete their fifth consecutive unbeaten dual-meet season when they host Grand Rapids Friday. Brainerd has won 46 consecutive dual meets since losing Jan. 8, 1999, at Willmar. Katie Perpich ranks in the state's top 20 with her 37.350 all-around score and 9.55 on uneven bars.
Boys' hockey -- Brainerd (13-6-2) is at Buffalo Saturday and at Little Falls Tuesday. Forward Morgan Shepherd has 23 goals and 44 points, Chris Peluso has 9-27. Nick Whichello has a 7-5-1 record in goal, Tyler Ostman is 4-2-0 and Jake Carlson 2-0-1.
Swimming -- The Warriors compete in the conference meet Saturday at St. Cloud Tech. Alexandria has won the last 10 conference titles. Brainerd has never won the CLC.
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