It had to be a dream.

Ben Andringa (Sr., F) skated towards the post, reeled in Alex Longoria’s (Fr., F) stretch pass and finished backdoor. Not one minute had passed, and Crookston led powerhouse Warroad, 1-0.

Turns out, both teams were dreaming.

The Warriors, the sleeping giants, woke up first. Then they jostled the Pirates awake, quite rudely so.

Warroad scored seven straight goals after Crookston’s opening goal, winning 7-2 on Tuesday at the Crookston Sports Center.

“(Scoring first) was a big booster, but we knew it wasn’t gonna be the only thing we had to do to win this game,” Andringa said. “We sat back on it, and it bit us in the butt.”

Added junior goaltender Noah Dragseth: “We kinda let up after that because we almost surprised ourselves.”

Meanwhile, the Warriors had no panic, wasting no time taking control of possession and the shots battle in the first period. Warroad things, essentially. Their first goal, a puck that squirted through Noah Dragseth (Jr., G)’s legs, seemed inevitable. Still, the Pirates would have no problems going into intermission tied at one.

But the real backbreaker came with eight seconds to go in the first period. Warroad’s star forward, Grant Slukynsky, scored on a slow-developing breakout, one in which Crookston coach Josh Hardy thought his team lacked effort on.

“It’s always a momentum-killer when they score right before the Zamboni,” Andringa said. “(That’s) when it’s most in your head. You go into the next period knowing you’re one goal down, and that’s one of the hardest things to come out hard to.”

It only got harder.

The Warriors pumped in four goals in the second period: two from Slukynsky to bring his total to four, one from Anthony Foster and another from Carson Reed. One was shorthanded, another came on the power play. They came in orderly, two-to-three minute intervals. It was clean, comprehensive, brutal dominance — but Hardy still thought much of it was preventable.

“We picked up a stick, we back-checked all the way to the line instead of just to the slot, or we think we’re working hard to get back and we’re not,” Hardy said. “It’s all little, correctable things, and you give a team like Warroad or a player like Grant Slukynsky any sort of time and space and make a mistake, they make you pay.”

The Pirates regained some momentum in the third period, boosted by a locker-room talk by assistant coach Connor Morgan. Andringa answered Foster’s second goal with a breakaway finish to make it 7-2 with five minutes to play.

“We all agreed that we weren’t playing as a team,” Andringa said. “If we could just do that and win a period, score some goals and have some fun with it, maybe we’d start playing hockey again.”

Still, that was only enough for a 1-1 tie in the final period. To compete with the Warriors in the future, the Pirates know that not only will the effort need to be there, but the correctable mistakes will need to be sliced down tremendously.

“Once we watch film they’re gonna go, ‘ugh,’ ” Hardy said. “They’re gonna be even more frustrated with themselves that they let a game like that get away from them, when I think may very well have been a much closer game than the score dictates.

“There’s gonna be a lot of games where we get outshot 2-1 or 3-1, but that we can absolutely win, and that’s something we’ve done in the past quite a bit. … It’s hard to trust the process now, but we’ve been through this before and know that it’s coming.”

UP NEXT: The Pirates make the long trip to the Twin Cities to play St. Paul Johnson at 7:20 p.m Friday.

The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730, Jacob Shames (405) 496-0168 or by email at jshames@crookstontimes.com.

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