East Grand Forks' Colton Poolman (6) celebrates his first-period goal with a teammate in the Green Wave's 5-3 victory over visiting Warroad. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
Kobe Roth (5) and Kyle Sylvester (18) of Warroad are two of the young, high-scoring Warriors.
Kyle Sylvester knows just how Kobe Roth and Jared Bethune feel.
Warroad’s leading returning scorer has played the role of precocious young superstar on a team full of veterans. Three years ago, Sylvester cracked his way into the Warriors’ lineup as a freshman sensation. Now he’s a veteran junior – and perhaps feeling a sense of nostalgia as he looks at the rising star that is his two sophomore teammates.
But that doesn’t exempt Sylvester from knocking them down a few pegs when he can. No doubt he had to endure his fair share, as well.
“That one little guy (the 5-foot-4 Roth), he has some dangle,” grinned Sylvester, after he and Roth both scored in a 5-3 loss at East Grand Forks Friday night. “No one can touch him.”
Friday’s loss aside, it’s been a great start for Sylvester and the young Warriors.
Less than a month into their first varsity season, the talented duo of Roth and Bethune has shown more than just a little flair. Bethune leads the Warriors in scoring with nine goals and 17 points, with Roth right on his heels with eight goals and 13 points. Sylvester is looking up at both with his six goals and 12 points. Together, they’ve accounted for 23 of the Warriors’ 30 goals in a 5-2-0 start this winter.
“I figured a lot of the top dogs from last year graduated, so as the top returning scorer I knew I had step it up a little bit and keep up with these Bantams that are going to be scoring a lot, too,” smiled Sylvester, who had 15 goals and 41 points as a sophomore – totals that might be in jeopardy.
Roth and Bethune were among that strong crop of Warriors who led the Bantam A program to the state tournament last season and were expected to jump right into varsity hockey. From the first day of tryouts, it was quickly apparent to Warroad coach Jay Hardwick that would be the case. Sure, there was the occasional playful jab at the youngsters’ expense. But Hardwick and the veteran Warriors knew they’d come to rely on their new teammates soon enough.
“I knew they’d be good, but it was a matter of how fast they’d be able to handle it,” said Hardwick. “Obviously, it’s been a pleasant surprise that they jumped right in.”
Hardwick knows his Warriors’ hockey. He’s a former Warroad standout who played four years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and six seasons in the minor leagues. He also served as an assistant coach last year under Steve Haataja and watched the program suffer through an uncharacteristic 14-12-1 season and Section 8A semifinal playoff exit at the hands of East Grand Forks.
Hardwick wanted Roth and Bethune to play together on a line and he mixed and matched before settling on pairing them with senior Ben Smieja. The trio has clicked, as has Sylvester along with veteran Casey Anderson and sophomore Quincy George. They’ve given Warroad two scoring lines and important depth.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said the soft-spoken Bethune, who said the biggest adjustment has been the size of the opposing players. “You just want to prove yourself, I guess.”
As Sylvester intimated earlier, Roth isn’t a big player, but he’s shifty and knows his way around the ice. He uses his speed and puck smarts to his advantage. Bethune is much bigger and more physical at 5-foot-11 but also has great hands and a scorer’s touch.
“They’re good creative hockey players, and they have good hockey sense,” said East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno.
Hardwick admitted that East Grand Forks is the likely favorite to come out of Section 8A this winter, but feels his team is right there. Friday night’s game – while a loss – showed that the Warriors certainly aren’t far off.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming in, how the young kids would react,” admitted Hardwick. “But they’ve jumped in right away and played very well for us.
“And they just keep getting better.”
Warroad's Kyle Sylvester (18) follows through on his second-period power play goal.
Tye Ausmus (12) plays a big role on East Grand Forks' blue line as a sophomore.
East Grand Forks continued its terrific start to the season with its fifth win in six games (5-0-1), beating Warroad 5-3 Friday night. It also extended the Green Wave’s recent good fortunes against the Warriors. They won all three matchups last winter (two by a single goal), including a Section 8A semifinal playoff victory.
“To beat a section rival is always a good thing, but I didn’t think we were moving as well as we had been,” admitted coach Tyler Palmiscno, citing the team’s three power play goals allowed. East Grand Forks had posted three shutouts in the first five games and was dominating on the penalty kill – until Friday night.
“We didn’t have our best tonight and we found a way to get a win,” countered Green Wave senior Tommy Hajicek, whose goal midway through the second period proved to be the game-winner.
East Grand Forks scored four unanswered goals to beat Section 8A rival Warroad, 5-3 at the East Grand Forks Civic Center Friday night. After sophomore Kobe Roth gave the Warriors' a 1-0 lead just 2:05 into the game, the Green Wave (5-0-1) exploded for the next four goals.
Tanner Tweten had a hand in three of the four, assisting on the first two by Colton Poolman and Brandon Loven and then netting the third himself. Tommy Hajicek ended the four-goal flurry midway through the second period.
Warroad (5-2-0) tallied all three of its goals on the power play, including goals from Kyle Sylvester and Nick Jaycox on blistering shots from the point. After Jaycox's goal narrowed the Green Wave's lead to a single goal, Dixon Bowen put the game out of reach with a rebound goal on an East side power play with 2:57 to play.
Tanner Lindstrom made 21 saves for East Grand Forks, while Justin King stopped 27 for Warroad, including several spectacular sprawling saves during the Green Wave's flurry.
1. Tanner Tweten, East Grand Forks
Tweten had a hand in three of the Green Wave's four goals that turned an early 1-0 deficit into an insurmountable 4-1 lead midway through the second period. He assisted on the first two and then ripped in the third. The freshman winger plays much older and has good size at 6-foot-2.
2. Eddie Eades, East Grand Forks
Eades is one of the Green Wave's big (6-foot-2) defensemen who have made it tough on opposing offenses. He's a physical player who likes to throw his weight around, but also added a pair of assists.
3. Justin King, Warroad
The Warriors' first-year goaltender played well in his first big Section 8A test, making 27 saves, including several sprawling saves that kept the Warriors in the game. He's not a big goaltender, but positioned himself well and showed good movement from side to side.