After trailing 5-0, Crookston made it 5-4, but lost to Warroad 6-4.

    To those in the stands, the contest between the Crookston Pirates and the Warroad Warriors might as well have been two different games. At one point, the Warriors led 5-0 and not much later, the Pirates trailed by a single score down 5-4. Despite the effort of the Pirates, Warroad iced the game scoring their sixth goal with a 1:36 to play and handed Crookston their third straight loss.

    “It’s a prime example of what role momentum plays in high school,” Head Coach Josh Hardy said. “Warroad was sitting there feeling pretty good up 5-0 thinking they’ve got it wrapped up and our guys refused to believe that. We’re excited about the way we played in the third, it’s early in December and hopefully we can build on that third period.”

    After trailing 5-0, Crookston (0-3) responded with four unanswered goals including scores from Jack Doda (8th Grade F), Joe Doda (Jr. F) and Brock Heppner (Sr. C) twice. Crookston brought the deficit to within one with 4:40 remaining in the third period, but could get no closer.

    In the net, Jack Ricord (Sr. G) saved 17 shots.

    Warroad broke out their offense early with two goals in the first period complimented by three in the second period to gain a 5-0 advantage with 1:28 to go in the second frame.

    “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit,” Hardy said. “We let mistakes pile up on top of each other and we compounded mistakes with more mistakes. For us, we just have to be mentally tougher when those things happen and be able to bounce back.”

    A glimmer of hope presented itself when Jack Doda broke through and delivered his first goal of the season, assisted by Eric Delorme (Sr. F) and Sam Overgaard (Sr. F), with 52 seconds left in the second period.

    The third period commenced and Crookston quickly built on their momentum with Joe Doda’s first goal of the season with the help of Ben Andringa (Jr. F) and Quinn Westlake (Jr. F). Just under four minutes later, Heppner cashed in on an opportunity, assisted by Delorme and Logan Wardner (Sr. D), to bring the Pirates within two with 12 minutes to play.

    “In the second or third period, we really just challenged the guys to be mentally tough and find a way to get back in this game,” Hardy said. “That’s something we haven’t been able to do this year. They showed that they were able to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and make a game out of it. If we could play like we did in the third period all game, we would’ve had a much different outcome.”

    Eight minutes of game time passed and the score still sat at 5-3 in favor of Warroad. Fresh off his second goal of the season, Heppner took a shot, the goalie could not corral the puck which created a scrum in front of the net. Heppner snuck around the net and eventually tapped in his own rebound to make the score 5-4. Joe Doda received credit for an assist.

    Suddenly, with 4:40 left on the clock, Crookston found new life and possessed a chance to come all the way back from a five goal deficit. Unfortunately, Heppner’s second score of the game came with a downside after the senior and a Warriors player committed simultaneous penalties.

    “We talked about maybe calling a timeout, but we were playing so well at that point we were just trying to keep doing what we were doing,” Hardy said. “The big thing that was a detriment to us was after Brock Heppner scored the fourth goal, he and another guy ended up with coincidental penalties.”

    With the Pirates desperate for one more goal, the puck came to Crookston’s side for a face-off. Warroad won the face-off, had one of their players get behind the defensemen and tipped the puck past Ricord for a 6-4 lead with 1:36 to play.

    Unable to climb out of the newfound two goal hole, Crookston dropped the game 6-4 and fell to 0-3 on the season.

The Pirates will return home for their home-opener on Friday, December 7 against St. Paul Johnson at 7:30 p.m.

Follow live game updates for Pirates and Golden Eagles on Twitter: @CroxTimesSports or Snapchat: crookstontimes1.

For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com.