BAXTER -- Come Tuesday morning Pat Freeman might be the big man on campus at Brainerd High School.
With just under six minutes to play, the Brainerd Warrior senior defenseman scored his first varsity goal to add an exclamation point to a 6-0 Central Lakes Conference victory over Willmar Tuesday.
"I just wanted to put it in the lower left hand corner," Freeman laughed. "I just thought keep it away from the goalie."
Freeman didn't know why his teammates picked him to kick the penalty. Before the red card display, a mad scramble in front of the Willmar net provided numerous scoring opportunities for Brainerd. The best one resulted in a Willmar defensman slapping the ball away with his hands. The infraction gave Freeman the free kick.
"He's a senior, he plays defense and he doesn't find himself in those types of situations very often," said Devine. "When something like that comes up in a game like this, we can give a guy a chance who might not otherwise have it."
The game was never close as Jason Roberts and Jesse Bates opened the flood gates early. Roberts scored at 11:55 followed by Bates at the 17 minute mark and again at the 21 minute mark.
In the second half Justin Cervin shot his way into the mix with a bullet past Willmar goalie Travis Mickelson.
Roberts scored his second goal off a precise pass from Mark Bublitz. Then it was Freeman's turn.
"I wanted to go to school tomorrow and say we won," said Devine. "Then once we had the win established, we wanted to get the shutout. That was very important to me.
"One mistake is a goal so we had to play mistake-free on defense."
Another plus to a game like Monday's was Devine's ability to substitute. Not only did it give his younger players some experience, but allowed his starting rotation to heal before Brainerd travels to Bemidji today, Little Falls Thursday and Detroit Lakes Saturday.
"A game like this helps with teaching what good character is when you're winning," said Devine. "Not to have a saunter about you that could be demeaning to the other team.
"I always ask my players to be gentlemen which is hard for our team because we haven't had a chance to saunter and gloat around."
The Willmar game couldn't have come any sooner. Coming off a disastrous loss to St. Cloud Tech and a tough loss to Alexandria, Brainerd needed a shot in the arm.
Willmar 0 0 -- 0
Brainerd 3 3 -- 6
First half -- 1, B-Jason Roberts 11:55; 2, B-Jesse Bates 17:36; 3, B-Bates (Roberts) 21:13
Second half -- 4, B-Justin Cervin 46:34; 5, B-Roberts (Mark Bublitz) 49:41; 6, B-Pat Freeman 74:43
Shots on goal -- B 8-8--16; W 1-1--2
Goaltenders -- B-Joe Phelps (2 saves); W-Travis Michelson (10 saves)
Conference -- B 2-3-3. Overall -- B 3-4-3. Next game -- Brainerd at Bemidji 3:30 p.m. today.
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