STILLWATER -- A lot can happen over the course of four months.
For the Brainerd Warriors adapted floor hockey team, it has been a 180-degree turn in the right direction.
Avenging a loss to St. Paul Humboldt in the first game of the season, the Warriors capped a spectacular year Saturday as they won their second-ever state championship 7-2 over the Humboldt Hawks at Stillwater High School.
"I didn't think back in November we could do this," said first-year Brainerd head coach Bruce Thompson, whose team lost to Humboldt 5-3 and then ran off 12 straight wins. "This is pretty wild. As the season goes, things changed, our lines changed and our passing improved. We knew this time we could play with them."
This was Brainerd's second championship after winning the title in 1998. The Warriors were third in 1999 and 1997 and second in 1996.
"It feels just as good as the last time," said senior center Nick Praska, who had three goals and two assists in the championship game. "It feels even better because we lost to these guys the first game. We wanted to show them we could win."
Senior wing Adam Carner scored two goals and recorded two assists for the Warriors, while teammate Chris Nelson had a goal and three assists.
"This is my second time around and the second time is a lot better because it's my senior year," Carner said. "The last time we played them we had only three days of practice and they got a couple of lucky goals. There was no luck in this game. It was a pretty hard battle."
Practice time has made the difference in this year's Warrior squad. Thompson said four scrimmages -- against a group of Brainerd High students, the boys' hockey team, a team of faculty members and the girls' hockey team -- has helped the team out immensely.
"When we played the girls' hockey team, they really passed things around and schooled us on passing," Thompson said. "That showed us the importance of setting people up."
In Saturday's finale, the Warriors found open teammates in front of the net continuously instead of launching midcourt shots. Brainerd recorded eight assists against Humboldt.
"Our passing was great," Carner said. "We played our positions and stayed with our man. We pulled back up and fought hard to the end."
The game was never really close. Brainerd jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and scored two more in the second to lead 4-0.
No goal was prettier than the first at the 8:10 mark of the first period. Chris Nelson received the puck from Adam Carner close to the side wall. Nelson then found a wide open Praska camped in front of the net. Praska then slid the puck into an open right corner of the goal.
Four minutes later, Adam Thiel received a picture-perfect pass from David Petersen to score the Warriors' second goal. Carner and Praska each scored in the second period to build the aforementioned lead.
"It was nice to jump up early instead of playing from behind," Thompson said. "We're fortunate to have two strong lines. We can mix everybody up and everybody can play every position."
Dustin Scherfenberg had an outstanding outing in goal for the Warriors. The sophomore recorded 18 saves and shut the Hawks out for two periods.
"Our goalie has built up his skills and has gotten a lot better," Praska said. "We were more ready to play."
Praska (7 goals, 4 assists) and Nelson (5 goals, 3 assists) were named to the all-tournament team.
Brainerd 2 2 3 -- 7
St. Paul Humboldt 0 0 2 -- 2
First period -- B-Nick Praska (Chris Nelson, Adam Carner) 8:10; B-Adam Thiel (David Petersen) 12:17
Second period -- B-Carner (Praska) 9:30 (ppg); B-Praska (Nelson) 13:19
Third period -- H-Mike Becker (Jimmy Buus) :30; B-Praska (Nelson, Carner) 9:40; B-Nelson (unassisted) 11:03; B-Carner (Praska) 12:01; H-Mike York (Becker) 14:13
Shots on goal -- B 15-22-25 -- 62; H 13-9-13 -- 35
Goalies -- B-Dustin Scherfenberg (18 saves); H-Phil Thorman (12 saves)
Overall -- Brainerd 12-1, Humboldt 11-2.
Brainerd 1 3 1 -- 5
Dakota United 1 1 2 -- 4
First period -- B-Nelson (unassisted) 3:11; D-Shaun Olson (Matt Schmidt) 9:27
Second period -- B-Praska (unassisted) 9:52; D-Schmidt (Ryan Hansen) 10:00; B-Nelson (Thiel, Praska) 10:17; B-Praska (unassisted) 10:38
Third period -- D-Chad Firkus (Schmidt) 1:55; B-Nelson (Carner, Praska) 9:35; D-Schmidt (unassisted) 14:08
Shots on goal -- B 11-21-22 -- 54, D 9-12-9 -- 30
Goalies -- B Scherfenberg (17 saves), D (13 saves)
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