By: Virg Foss, Grand Forks Herald
Warroad High School chooses not to play the smaller programs in Minnesota Section 8A boys hockey, electing to play a beefed-up schedule that could help the Warriors come playoff time.
It’s hard to argue with that logic. Warroad has won the last three section titles and six of the last seven to advance to the state tournament.
One of the smaller schools Warroad doesn’t play from Section 8 is Kittson Country Central.
Well, David (Kittson County Central) got a rematch with Goliath (Warroad) on Saturday night and guess what?
This time Goliath slew David.
The Warriors scored two shorthanded goals in the first 64 seconds of the game as the Warroad raced to a 5-0 lead after one period and a 9-2 victory.
“Anytime you have shorthanded goals scored against you,” Warroad coach Albert Hasbargen said, “it’s hard to fight back. We scored two of them and it took the gas out of them right there.”
Senior Brock Nelson, a UND recruit and a Mr. Hockey finalist in Minnesota, put on a scoring clinic. He scored four goals and assisted on two others, running his season goal total to 46.
The victory sends Warroad (23-4) into Thursday’s championship game against the winner of Monday’s game between East Grand Forks Senior High and Thief River Falls. The Warriors will be gunning for their fourth straight section title.
Nick Stoskopf, who had two goals, scored shorthanded just 23 seconds into the game, nine seconds after the Bearcats went on a power play. Aaron Rasmussen’s shorthanded goal 41 seconds later took more zip out of KCC.
“We saw the article (in the Grand Forks Herald) where they kind of said they wanted us,” Nelson said.
“We knew they would come out ready to play. We wanted to get that quick start — and we did.”
Nelson now has seven goals and four assists in two tournament games.
“Your top players have to play big in big games,” Hasbargen said. “That’s how you win.”
The shorthanded goals deflated any hopes the Bearcats had of pulling off a monumental upset and making the section finals for the first time since 1961.
“When we got those two shorthanded goals, it gave us motivation and I think that kind of killed them right away,” Nelson said.
Warroad, scoring nine goals for the second straight game in the tournament, picked up other goals from David Nelson, and Austin Strieff.
Warroad scored five power-play goals on 10 tries to go along with the pair of shorthanded goals.
With the third period played in running time under state rules based on the score, KCC, which finishes at 16-7, gave its fans something to cheer about.
Donavon Kasprowicz scored on a rebound at 1:39 of the final period and leading scorer Craig Lindegard banged in a power-play goal, his 47th goal of the season, three minutes later for the final score.
But it was no answer for Nelson and friends. “I just try to come ready to play every game and bring the best to the table every time,” Nelson said.
“They’re a good team,” KCC coach Scott Klein said. “They have great team speed and great individual skills. Our boys had trouble matching up one-on-one.”
Especially when Goliath has a giant of a game.