The Brainerd High School pep band, cheerleaders and a large delegation of fans showed up at the Riverside Elementary School gym to watch the Warriors' adapted floor hockey team take on the Hudson, Wis., Raiders Tuesday.
The only thing that didn't show up were goals for the Warriors as they suffered a disappointing 9-2 loss to the team from Wisconsin.
The Warriors had their chances to score. Twice, Brainerd sophomore Chris Nelson found the back of the net, only to have both goals called off because of offsides. In the first period Doug Ream was inches away from a goal only to have it stopped by a spoke of the goalie's wheelchair.
"Hudson played awfully well. We're capable of playing a lot better. Our kids know that going into the state tournament (next month) that everyone is back to a 0-0 record." -- Bruce Thompson, Warriors coach
There was even a phantom goal as Nelson shot into the net, but the referees didn't see the score as the puck bounced off the back of the net and out of the scoring area.
While Brainerd was celebrating, the Raiders took the puck, raced down the court and found the Warrior defense too busy celebrating to stop the fourth actual goal of the game, by Hudson's Jason Tervo, who finished with two goals and four assists.
The real story was the play of Kevin McLaren, who consistently found an opening in the Warriors' defense and exploited it for six goals and one assist.
"They were passing very well," said Brainerd goalie Dustin Scherfenberg. "They got a lot of goals off the rebound. The puck would deflect off my pads and I just couldn't turn fast enough."
It would be hard to blame Scherfenberg for the nine goals as he stopped 13 shots and was constantly under fire by an aggressive Hudson attack.
Brainerd's forwards had a difficult time mounting an attack against a wheelchair goalie and a walker-defense.
"They were playing a walker-D with two (wheel)chairs in the crease," said Warriors coach Bruce Thompson. "They had four really good players. With a walker-D that player is very capable of putting the puck in the net from almost anywhere on the floor."
Every time Brainerd tried to mount an attack, the walker-defender, Peter Rankin, appeared on the puck first. With Brainerd on the attack that left Hudson forwards open down the court. Rankin would pass it to the open forwards, causing 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 breaks.
"While the walker-D is holding the puck, they would slide their wings and centers behind our players and off they go uncontested to their own goal," said Thompson. "We had to hang back with them a little bit."
The Warriors never got on track. After the first two periods Brainerd found itself down 4-0. The score easily could have been 3-3 had the Brainerd goals counted.
In the third quarter McLaren got hot, scoring four goals in a four-minute span. The lone bright spot in that time was a goal by Nelson, off an assist by Herschel Templeton.
Along with McLaren's four goals, Rankin nailed a slap shot to make it 9-1 with just over four minutes left.
Brainerd's Nelson scored the final goal off an assist by Eric Goodew to make it 9-2.
"Hudson played awfully well," said Thompson. "We're capable of playing a lot better.
"Our kids know that going into the state tournament (next month) that everyone is back to a 0-0 record."
Hudson 2 2 5 -- 9
Brainerd 0 0 2 -- 2
First period -- 1, H-Kevin McLaren (Jason Tervo, David Knutson) 7:52; 2, H-Tervo (McLaren) 10:22
Second period -- 3, H-McLaren (Peter Rankin) 7:17; 4, H-Tervo 7:45
Third period -- 5, H-McLaren (Tervo) 4:30; 6, B-Chris Nelson (Herschel Templeton) 5:20; 7, H-McLaren (Tervo) 5:41; 8, H-McLaren (Tim McLaren) 8:27; 9, H-McLaren (Rankin, T. McLaren) 8:35; 10, H-Rankin (T. McLaren, Tervo) 11:41, 11, B-Nelson (Eric Goodew) 14:39
Shots on goal -- H 30, B 25
Goalies -- H-David Knutson (9 saves), B-Dustin Scherfenberg (13 saves)
Overall -- B 6-4. Next game -- Brainerd at state tournament March 16-17, time and opponent TBA.
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