With the 2020-21 season still months out, it’s time to take a look at teams from all over the State of Hockey and examine what happened this past season and what’s ahead. The next team we’re breaking down is Brainerd.
How last season went
The Warriors are not a team that has caught the attention of many around the state when it comes to hockey. This northern program still has some room to grow on a number of levels. During the 2019-20 season, Brainerd found itself to be meandering around the middle.
Playing in the Central Lakes Conference, the Warriors held their own and finished the season in third place. Overall, Brainerd posted a 10-12-3 regular season record. The highlight may have been a pair of wins against conference foe Alexandria.
In Section 8AA, the Warriors earned the No. 6 seed and played Roseau in the quarterfinals. The historically prominent Rams eked by Brainerd in a 2-1 game that ended the Warriors’ season.
Who’s back and who’s gone
Haden Kruse had a helping hand in a significant portion of Brainerd’s offense and it looks like he’ll be able to do that again next season. His 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) led the team during the 2019-20 season. Besides Kruse,also is set to suit up again for the Warriors after tallying 11 goals and 13 assists last season.
In net, the net gain is about even. Luke Saiko graduates after playing in 18 games while posting a .873 save percentage. Jed Klang is poised to take over goaltending duties full time after posting a .878 save percentage in 8 appearances.
Saiko is one of a number of impactful seniors moving on from the Brainerd program.(9G, 23A) and Mike Laber (15G, 11A) each were key contributors in their final season of high school hockey.
What to expect next season
The Warriors have yet to do enough to capture most people’s imagination. Klang and the rest of the returning Brainerd players have a chance to do that. If that does happen, the Warriors will have to do it while toppling other top programs in Section 8AA such as Moorhead, Roseau and St. Michael-Albertville.