Following an overtime loss Thursday night to Minnetonka there could have been some worry the Class 2A’s No. 15 ranked Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors might come out sluggish Friday night against Class 1A’s No. 19 ranked Thief River Falls Prowlers.
The Warriors put any doubt away quickly as they put a four spot on the scoreboard in the first period to cruise to a 4-0 win Friday, Jan. 10, at Essentia Health Sports Center.
“I liked a lot about our game last night,” Warriors head coach Jack Freeman said. “Obviously, we were on the wrong side of it in terms of result, but we did a lot of good things. We just needed to make sure we picked up where we left off last night and come out and have the effort and attack early.”
Sophomore Brynne Folden started the scoring for the Warriors with a beautiful backhand shot that found the top shelf at the 8:28 mark.
Taylor Larson picked up her first of two first-period goals at the 11:48 mark with a long shot from the blueline. Eighteen seconds later, Dartmouth College commit Sophie Robinson found the back of the net with a nice assist from Shaylee Stroot and Molly Pohlkamp.
“First off, it was important to play good defense right after you score,” Robinson said. “It was just nice to put one in, too.”
Larson then finished off the first period scoring with a goal assisted by Lindsey Booth at the 15-minute mark.
“We came off a tough loss yesterday, but it was a good fast pace game so we just wanted to keep that identity starting in this game and just come out quick,” Larson said. “It was a huge thing for us to get that first four. We just got to keep getting pucks to the net and working hard.”
The Warriors outshot the Prowlers 17-3 and dominated the puck in their zone in the first period.
“We are at our best when we take away time and space,” Freeman said. “We had a good pursuit last night and we came out and got after them. Established some zone time and see some success.”
Thief River Falls switched goaltenders after the first period to Gabriella Steele, who kept the Warriors scoreless the rest of the way with 28 saves. BLF relentlessly attacked the net and got off 45 shots on goal compared to eight shots by the Prowlers.
“We knew we needed to have a good forecheck tonight and continue from last night and that led to a lot of shots,” Robinson said.
Emily Johnson stopped all eight shots she faced for a shutout and a bounce-back win for the Warriors.
“We had a very hard forecheck tonight,” Larson said. “That is always huge to keep the puck and then we just have to make the right choices of when to pinch and keep the puck in.”
Moving forward, Freeman knows his team needs to play its best hockey at the end of the season. Their next game against Roseau Friday, Jan. 17, Freeman called the biggest game of the year for them.
“Our kids have that one circled on their calendar,” Freeman said. “They need to be up for that one and to be playing their best hockey right now.”
Thief River Falls 0 0 0 -- 0
Brainerd/LF 4 0 0 -- 4
First period: BLF-Brynne Folden (Emma Smith) 8:28, BLF-Taylor Larson (Josie Kramer) 11:48, BLF-Sophie Robinson (Shaylee Stroot, Molly Pohlkamp) 12:06, BLF-Larson (Lindsey Booth) 15:00
Shots on goal: BLF 17-10-18 45, TRF 3-5-0 8
Goalies: BLF-Emily Johnson (8 saves); TRF-Bell Hamre (13 saves), Gabriella Steele (28 saves)
For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/307iWla.