With all the noise revolving around the Brainerd Warrior gymnasts going to state, the boys' hockey team in sections, and record breaker Shaun Kennedy and the Brainerd swimming and diving team preparing for sections; the floor hockey team has quietly continued their dominance in Minnesota.
At the Riverside Elementary Thursday the Warriors impressed their solid fan base with a 7-0 thrashing of the Maple Grove 79ers.
With a 6-3 record the Warriors showed they're ready for a run to regain their state title and capture their third in four years come March.
After a scoreless first period, sophomore captain Chris Nelson and the Warriors first line led Brainerd the a war path. Nelson finished the game with six goals and an assist. Linemate David Petersen registered a goal and an assist and sophomore captain Doug Ream finished with two assists.
Nelson's first goal came at 3:49 in the second period. Racing down the court on a 1-1 break, Nelson appeared to trip, while falling he was able to tap the puck to Ream. Ream positioned himself, passed back to Nelson who fired in the shot.
At 9:53, Nelson batted the puck into the left corner where Ream once again found the open man. This time it was Petersen who took the past and fired in the one-timer.
Nelson scored the last goal of the second period with 11:04 gone by to give Brainerd a 3-0 lead.
"We've been waiting for a game all year like this," said Brained coach Bruce Thompson. "We haven't played our best floor hockey yet. We have had spurts like against Dakota (United) where we've played very well and then we haven't.
"We've been ready to play a lot of teams but the puck just hasn't bounced our way a lot of times. (Thursday) it did."
The third period was all Nelson who scored four more goals. Nelson's fifth goal was more like a Hail Mary pass. After chasing down an errant Maple Grove shot, Nelson received the puck for Warrior goalie Dustin Scherfenberg. Nelson turned and fired from right in front of his net. The puck sailed through the air and stopped in the back of the 79ers' net.
"When I was down by our net, I just looked down and I caught him (79ers' goalie Nate Michels) asleep so I took the shot," said Nelson. "I didn't think it was going to go in."
Nelson's final goal came just 37 seconds later to give Brainerd the 7-0 win.
Scherfenberg was outstanding in net for Brainerd. On numerous occasions, the junior goalie made mind boggling saves.
In the first period, off a shot from Maple Grove's Kyle Sakry, Scherfenberg stopped the initial shot, but when the puck dropped it bounced towards the net. As he turned the puck was inches away from going across the line but Scherfenberg was there with the stick save.
"He really has been a plus to our team," said Thompson. "He's a real good goalie who can knock things down. He's one of the better stand-up goalie's in the state.
"He's agile. He's quick. He had some nice saves and gloved a lot of pucks. He can just do some things a lot of kids can't do."
With the win Brainerd bounced back from a tough loss Tuesday against Robbinsdale. In that game Brainerd fell down early and lost 10-4.
"We figured that to get a good seed at state we had to win this game," said Nelson. "We have to win the rest of our games."
Maple Grove 0 0 0 -- 0
Brainerd 0 3 4 -- 7
Second period -- 1, B-Chris Nelson (Doug Ream) 3:49, 2, B-David Petersen (Hershel Templeton, Nelson) 9:53, 3, B-Nelson 11:04
Third period -- 4, B-Nelson (Ream, Petersen) 3:35, 5, B-Nelson 4:23 ppg, 6, B-Nelson (Dustin Scherfenberg) 7:23, 7, B-Nelson 8:00
Shots on goal -- MC 21, B 40
Goalies -- MC Nate Michels (12 saves), B Scherfenberg (6 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- MC 0-0, B 1-2
Overall -- B 6-3. Next game -- Brainerd vs. Hudson at Riverside Elementary 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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