With its top two goalies, its top three defensemen and its two leading scorers returning, the Brainerd Warriors boys' hockey team has high expectations this winter.
Even though Brainerd finished on the short end of a 3-2 score in its season opener against the Moorhead Spuds on Tuesday it proved it can play with one of the state's best teams.
The Spuds, ranked fourth in Class 2A, return a dozen players from a fourth-place finish at the state tournament.
"Like I said to our guys, that other team has some pretty high aspirations of what it would like to do this year," Warriors coach Ty Eigner said. "If ours aren't the same as theirs, then something's wrong.
"We proved we can play right with, without a doubt, one of the top three or four teams in the state. I haven't seen every team but I've seen a couple of them that everybody feels are pretty darn good, and Moorhead's one of those teams.
"Obviously, we would have liked to win, no question, but 3-2 in the first game against a top five program that's certainly a positive. That says a lot for where our program is right now."
The old switcheroo
With 3:21 remaining, the Warriors pulled goalie Nick Whichello and warmed up Tyler Ostman. But Eigner changed his mind and left Whichello in the cage.
Eigner said the rule for pulling a goalie in the last two minutes has changed. In the past a team used to be able to warm up a replacement goalie without being charged a timeout as long as it did it before two minutes remained. Now, any time there is a goalie change, the team is charged with a timeout.
"What I said was if you're charging me for my timeout I might as well put my other goalie back in, right?'" said Eigner. "I said, 'Is that OK,' and (the officials) said, 'Yeah, that's fine.'
"It ended up working out because you're only supposed to get a minute (for a timeout). We ended up getting about four minutes."
With 1:21 left, Brainerd pulled Whichello in favor of a sixth attacker. At that point Moorhead coach Dave Morinville realized his team hadn't practiced for that scenario yet this season.
"All of a sudden I saw that at the end of the game and I thought, 'You dummy,' Morinville said, "but our guys grabbed it fast. They started yelling at guys what to do, they listened and they responded."
Eigner to speak
to boosters club
Brainerd Warriors boys' hockey coach Ty Eigner will be the speaker at the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club meeting, which begins noon Thursday at the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen located at 923 Oak St. behind the Triangle Store and Temple Baptist Church.
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