Warroad and Crookston have been essentially mirror images of each other this season. The Warriors lost their first game of the season in Roseau on Thursday after starting out 13-0, while the 0-13 Pirates picked up their first win that same night in Park Rapids.
Saturday afternoon in Warroad, mirror images collided. The Warriors won convincingly, beating Crookston boys' hockey 9-0 behind four goals from Grant Slukynsky and four assists from Jayson Shaugabay.
"We just weren’t prepared mentally from the drop of the puck," said Crookston head coach Josh Hardy. "I need to do a better job of making sure we’re ready to go right from the start of the game. Part of it is having the confidence in our own game that we can compete against anyone."
Warroad beat Crookston 7-2 on Dec. 4 in Crookston in the team's previous meeting.
The Pirates' 7-2 blowout of Park Rapids on Thursday lifted a massive weight off their shoulders, according to Hardy. But their troubles didn't end when their losing streak did, as Hardy said around half the team has been dealing with injury, illness or a combination of the two.
Crookston's weakened lineup only got weaker on Saturday. After Owen Meeker scored 19 seconds into the game, Ben Andringa (Sr., F) — the Pirates' second-leading scorer with 14 points this season — went down with a shoulder injury midway through the first period.
"It felt like the complexion of the game really changed (then)," Hardy said.
Crookston escaped the first down just 2-0, but the Warriors opened the floodgates in the second. Anthony Foster, Carson Reed, Slukynsky and Meeker scored, in order, in the period.
Slukynsky completed his hat trick with 11 minutes to play and scored a fourth goal for good measure with under two minutes left. Sandwiched between Slukynsky's two goals was a goal by Matt Hard.
Slukynsky, a Northern Michigan commit, has eight goals in his two games against the Pirates this season, and for the season has scored 24 goals to go along with 34 assists in 58 games. He assisted on Warroad's first goal Saturday as well.
Noah Dragseth (Jr., G) made 36 saves before being relieved by Jaren Bailey (Fr., G) after the Warriors' eighth goal. Bailey made five stops in the final period.
Jack Orchard picked up the win for Warroad, making eight saves.
"We didn’t bring our best today and they made us pay," Hardy said. "(We) need to flush this loss and prepare for a big one Tuesday."
UP NEXT: Crookston is at home on Tuesday to play Detroit Lakes. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. at the Crookston Sports Center.
The Lakers (7-8-2, 3-3 Section 8A) handled the Pirates, 5-2, in Detroit Lakes on Jan. 3.
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