Brainerd's Matt Pohlkamp, right, scored twice for Team North in its 5-1 victory over Team Southwest. Photo by Helen Nelson
There’s nothing like the comfort of sleeping in your own bed, except maybe the comfort of dressing in front of your customized locker room stall, or perhaps best of all, the comfort of slamming an opponent to your hometown ice.
They are playing a rough and tumble style of hockey in Brainerd these days, a style taught by former University of North Dakota star Jim Archibald and executed to a T by Archibald’s son, Josh, among others.
So when the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League made a northern swing to the Brainerd Civic Center Arena on Saturday, Oct. 16, it should have come as no surprise that a couple of Brainerd boys, Josh Archibald and Warriors teammate Matt Pohlkamp, were Team North’s stars in its 5-1 triumph over Team Southwest.
Comfortable? Pohlkamp had two goals and Archibald scored the eventual game winner for Team North.
Archibald and Pohlkamp also threw their bodies around with abandon, just as Jim Archibald did as college player who put the fight in the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
“That’s my style of the game,” Josh Archibald said. “I like taking the body, I like grinding it out against people, getting into their faces.
“It runs in my blood, too, I have to say that.”
Archibald twice leveled Team Southwest forward Kyle Rau of Eden Prairie with hits, no small accomplishment given that the elusive Rau possesses uncanny ice awareness and is a heavy favorite to win Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey this season.
Of course, all that aggression can lead to a penalty or two. Or three. Archibald ended up taking three penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct. He now leads the league with 45 penalty minutes in 16 games.
Brainerd's Matt Pohlkamp of Team North breaks in alone on Team Southwest goaltender Connor Girard of Edina. Photo by Helen Nelson
“I think I said some foul words to one of the linesemen after he dropped the puck and I was nowhere near the face-off dot,” Archibald said about his misconduct penalty.
Last winter, Archibald and Pohlkamp helped the Warriors earn one of the biggest wins in the program’s history. Brainerd beat Roseau 3-2 on Feb. 5 in front of a packed Civic Center crowd.
“The better we play in the games, the more fans come to watch us,” Pohlkamp said about his hometown’s growing passion for hockey. “We’ve got the light show before the game. I really enjoy it. It was crazy the night we played Roseau.”
Brainerd went 23-4-0 last season, eventually losing to Roseau in double overtime in the Section 8AA semifinals.
“Hopefully we can mimic last year except maybe go a little further in the playoffs,” Josh Archibald said. “Maybe got to state. It should be a good year.”
1. Alex Lyon, Team North
The outcome was no longer in doubt when Lyon, a senior from Lake of the Woods, made a spectacular diving save late in the third period that had Team Southwest players shaking their heads in disbelief. Still, the improbable stop proved that Lyon’s focus was unwavering in a 38-save performance that lowered his season goals-against average to 2.82.
2. Matt Pohlkamp, Team North
The junior forward from Brainerd scored two of Team North’s first three goals, positioning himself for highlight-reel scoring plays off picturesque passes from Patrick Moore of Grand Rapids and then Jake Randolph of Duluth East.
3. Josh Archibald, Team North
The fearless senior forward from Brainerd twice leveled elusive Eden Prairie Mr. Hockey frontrunner Kyle Rau with hits and scored what proved to be the winning goal. The only blemish in his performance was 14 minutes in penalties, including 10-minute major for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period.
Team North goaltender Alex Lyon of Lake of the Woods gets a pad on a shot by Team Southwest's Kyle Rau of Eden Prairie.
There’s no question Eden Prairie senior Kyle Rau (pictured at right) is a capable scorer and playmaker, perhaps the best in the state in both categories. But one player doesn't make for much of a forward line, and Rau found himself in Brainerd without his high-revving Team Southwest linemates Steven Fogarty and Michael Sit, both of Edina.
Sit and Fogarty missed the trip north to attend the Hornets’ homecoming festivities. Their absence forced some serious juggling of the Team Southwest lines. Rau, who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota, was listed on the pregame depth chart as being on a line with Minnetonka junior Sam Rothstein at center. No name was filled in at right wing, and the forward combinations changed often.
With all the mixing and matching of Southwest’s forwards, not to mention the absence of standout defenseman Dan Molenaar because of a hip injury, Team Southwest looked out of synch in its 5-1 loss to Team North.
Also missing for Team Southwest, as he has been for the past several weeks, was Edina defenseman Max Everson. He has been playing for the U.S. 18-under national team.
Matt Pohlkamp and Josh Archibald, playing in their home arena in front of family and friends, combined to score three goals to lead Team North past Team Southwest 5-1 on Saturday, Oct. 16, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League game at Brainerd Civic Center Arena in Brainerd.
Pohlkamp, a junior forward from Brainerd, scored the lone goal of the first period and added a goal in the second period that put Team North ahead 3-1.
Archibald, a senior forward who is the son of Brainerd coach and Civic Center manager Jim Archibald, scored what proved to be the winning goal midway through the second period.
Alex Lyon of Lake of the Woods turned in another outstanding performance in an Elite League season full of them, turning aside 38 shots to – at least temporarily – give him a league-best .930 save percentage for the season.
Jordan Heller of Bemidji and Nick DeCenzo of Hibbing scored in the third period for Team North (10-5-1). Thomas Schutt of Minnetonka scored the lone goal for Team Southwest (6-6-3).
Connor Girard of Edina made 31 saves for Team Southwest.
Team North went 2-for-10 on the power play while Team Southwest converted just 1 of 7 chances.
Team Southwest played without two first-line forwards in Steven Fogarty and Michael Sit, both of Edina. They missed the game to participate in Hornets’ homecoming festivities. Also, Team Southwest played without top-scoring defenseman Dan Molenaar of Eden Prairie (hip injury).
Team North was missing defensemen Jake Bushey of Duluth Marshall (soccer) and Jared Kohlquist of Hermantown (head injury).
Brainerd's Josh Archibald of Team North is steered away from a confrontation by an official during a game against Team Southwest. Photo by Helen Nelson