Brainerd/Pillager hadn't lost an adapted floor hockey game all year entering the state championship game Saturday against Anoka-Hennepin in the physically impaired division. It was clear early on that the Warriors would close out their season with a perfect record.
Brainerd/Pillager put the Mustangs on their heels from the get-go, jumping to an early 4-0 lead before winning 8-4 at Bloomington Jefferson High School. The Warriors (15-0) peppered the net with 28 shots on goal in the first period alone.
Junior forward Jacob Heinlen jump-started the Warriors' offense with a goal four minutes into the game. Freshman forward Blaise Edinger followed with a goal before eighth-grader Matt Allord finished the first period with two goals of his own.
"They always beat us first [earlier in the season], they always scored two goals and then we had to catch up," Heinlen said. "So, we knew we had to get ahead or else we weren't going to win."
Jake Heikkenen, a junior forward, led the Warriors with five points, on four goals and an assist.
"That's kind of been Jake's year. He's been a leader on the floor for us," Brainerd/Pillager coach Todd Person said. "Jake just takes things over on the floor."
The Mustangs (9-4) attempted a comeback late in the second period when junior Tyler Ezell fired a shot into the top off the net off of a Joey Manion assist. Ezell scored again in the third period before junior forward Michael Arends put away two goals for Anoka-Hennepin.
Brainerd/Pillager lost to Anoka-Hennepin in last year's state semifinal, but avenged that loss and capped off an impressive perfect season with only one senior on the roster.
"We have three juniors on the team this year, so next year we'll be very good," Heinlen said. "We're going to miss our senior but I think next year we'll be just fine."
Defending champs repeat in CI
For a brief period of time, it looked like North Suburban's undefeated season was going to end with a loss. St. Cloud Area (12-3) led by three goals and had all of the momentum.
But the Cougars (16-0) showed why they've dominated all season long, clawing back to win 10-7 and repeat as adapted floor hockey champions in the cognitively impaired division.
Junior forward Josh Hamann started the comeback with a goal that trimmed the lead to 7-5. Then Hamann scored again, followed by an Austin Motzko goal that tied the score. After that, Hamann finished the comeback he started with the game-winning goal.
"We just told them, 'You guys have got to stay tough. If you guys want this, you've got to put everything you've got into it,' " North Suburban coach Deb Kline said.
When North Suburban led 8-7, both Motzko and Hamann already had hat tricks. But Hamann didn't leave anything to chance, scoring two more late goals to give North Suburban its second consecutive championship.
"Both teams put their heart and soul into it and we came out on top," Kline said.