Nathan Puchalla excelled at being at the right place at the right time.
It's because of this trait he scored three of his six goals in the Brainerd Warriors 7-1 adapted floor hockey victory over Mounds View Monday.
Puchalla scored four goals in the first period alone, two off rebounds that lead to a 4-0 lead. He scored twice in the second supplying Brainerd a comfortable 6-1 advantage.
The senior forward followed the advice of his coach, Bruce Thompson, and camped out on the opposite side of the Mounds View goal. Then he waited. He waited until linemate Amanda Albertson shot. Then with both wheelchair defenders and the goalie looking one way, Puchalla corralled the rebound and slapped it into the back of the net.
Nathan Puchalla scored six goals
"The puck came into the crease and I just backhanded it in," said Puchalla. "It was one after the other.
"It was very amazing. We started out 4-0 and it just started continuing. We got the back hands. We got the good passes and we just did a good job. It was a good night."
Brainerd's fast start mirrored its start in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 16. Brainerd scored four quick first period goals, only to watch Mounds View rally.
This time the Warriors didn't let up. They controlled the tempo, the puck and the scoring column.
Warrior goalie Joe Casselman and fellow chair defender Andy Herold stopped eight of nine shots on net. The loan blemish was a long, sliding shot by Steve Ryan that snuck past Herold's stick.
It was the tandem of Ryan and Dan Corcoran that bullied Brainerd in the first meeting. Brainerd's defense prevented a repeat performances.
"Our real concern was how they shifted their forwards," said Thompson. "They start them out in one configuration and starting the second period they switch to something different. Where ever Ryan and Corcoran are on the front line you have to watch them. They are their shooters. They are good floor players. But they get shifted from defense to offense and other places."
Albertson scored Brainerd's final goal to go with her four assists. Ethan Rudbeck added three assists and Tyler Theien had two. Noah Bailey added one assist for the 7-1 Warriors.
Since the Warriors' first loss of the season Jan. 25, they've rattled off four straight wins and have scored at least seven goals in each of those victories. The trio of Albertson, Rudbeck and Puchalla have accounted for 25 goals and 17 assists in that time.
"We just have good chemistry," said Puchalla. "We just connect. We always connect and we see the floor pretty well."
Mounds View 0 1 0 - 1
Brainerd 4 2 1 - 7
First period - 1, Brd-Nathan Puchalla (Tyler Theien) 3:45; 2, Brd-Puchalla (Ethan Rudbeck, Amanda Albertson) 7:45; 3, Brd-Puchalla (Albertson) 11:05; 4, Brd-Puchalla (Albertson, Theien) 13:05
Second period - 5, Brd-Puchalla (Rudbeck) 8:05; 6, MV-Steve Ryan (Mark Braun) 12:10; 7, Brd-Puchalla (Albertson) 13:03
Third period - 8, Brd-Albertson (Rudbeck, Noah Bailey) 8:23
Shots on goal - Brd 12 10 10 - 32, MV 1 5 3 - 9
Goalies - Brd-Joe Casselman (8 saves); MV-Robbie Wilhelm (25 saves)
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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