Brainerd Warriors adapted floor hockey coach Bruce Thompson knows his team is capable of scoring.
Ethan Rudbeck leads Brainerd with 27 goals and 17 assists for 44 points, Tyler Theien has 32 goals, seven assists and 39 points, Wes Blomberg has 12 goals, 19 assists and 31 points, Austin Annable has four goals, 17 assists and 21 points and Mary Sebasky has three goals and three assists for six points.
It's defense that concerns the Warriors' coach as Brainerd plays the No. 2 South Division seed, the South Suburban Flyers, in the state tournament Friday at Bloomington Jefferson. Brainerd, the No. 3 seed in the North Division, and South Suburban did not play in the regular season.
Brainerd adapted floor hockey coach Bruce Thompson talked to Warriors players at practice Wednesday. The Warriors open play in the state tournament Friday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"The thing that concerns me is our players getting back on defense," Thompson said. "We scrimmaged a couple teams, and I don't know if we took the game lightly or what but we didn't do a good job of getting back on defense.
"We're giving up easy goals. Pucks bouncing in front of our goal are getting slapped in. We want them to earn that goal. They're going to score, and we're going to score. We have to make them earn it."
The Flyers (9-2-2) placed third last season. They are led by senior Karen Kreidler with 34 goals and nine assists. Robert Doyle has added 14 goals and nine assists, Nick Neison nine goals and nine assists and Michaela Smith 10 goals and six assists.
The Warriors, who were sixth at state last season, will move Rudbeck, Theien, Annable and Blomberg around to capitalize on matchups.
State adapted floor hockey tournament at Bloomington Jefferson
Friday's game: Brainerd vs. South Suburban 5 p.m.; Saturday's games: Consolation semifinals 9 a.m., championship semifinals 10:30 a.m., consolation championship 12:15 p.m., third place 2 p.m., championship 2:15 p.m.
"Ethan's our center and we'll flip him to wing occasionally," Thompson said. "Tyler, Austin and Wes are wings, they're pretty interchangeable. We like to interchange Austin and Wes at walker 'D.'
"Wes and Austin both have different qualities. Tyler's proven he can score, he's got (32) goals. Ethan can pass and shoot and he plays hard. We're counting on those guys to hopefully slow down South Suburban."
Brainerd is 9-4-0 after being awarded forfeit wins against White Bear Lake (Jan. 8) and Lakeville (playoff game). Both of the Warriors' losses were to Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound West and Anoka-Hennepin.
"We're sitting with four losses to two very good teams," Thompson said. "I've felt all along that Armstrong and Anoka could meet in the finals."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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