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Warroad wills its way to victory over Orono

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/10/23, 5:00PM CST


Erick Comstock preaches 'want to win' mantra, then goes out and wins state Class 1A semifinal game for top-seeded Warriors in double-overtime

Warroad’s Erick Comstock (on ice) and Carson Pilgrim (18) celebrate after Comstock’s goal early in the second overtime of the Class 2A semifinals against Orono. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

ST. PAUL — Want to win. With the emphasis on want.

Erick Comstock repeated it over and over and over.

Want to win.

“Erick kept saying that on the bench in the third period and overtime,” Warroad coach Jay Hardwick said Friday after Comstock’s goal in the opening minute of double overtime lifted the unbeaten and No. 1-seeded Warriors to a 2-1 victory over No. 4 seed Orono in a state Class 1A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center.

Want to win.

“I said absolutely,” Hardwick said. “It’s kind of fitting that he was the one kind of preaching to everybody as the game went on. Then he went out and wanted to win.”

With Comstock being a defenseman, it was somewhat curious to see him charge to the front of the net as teammate Jayson Shaugabay circled and looped shark-like with the puck in the Orono end in the opening seconds of the second overtime period.

“I saw Jayson looking, like he usually does with his great vision, and then I was like, ‘Yeah, I think he can find me.’ ” said Comstock, a senior. “And I just went straight to the net.”

Shaugabay found his man, and Comstock found the back of the net 16 seconds into the second overtime period.

Comstock’s goal came after No. 4-1A Orono (24-6-0) rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second period. Joey Greenagel and Avery Anderson scored for the Spartans before Brooks Fegers tied it at 3-3 with 7:47 remaining.

Hardwick said it’s standard operation procedure for the No. 1-1A Warriors (29-0-1) to green-light their defensemen to jump into the offensive zone if an opening presents itself. 

“These guys are outstanding hockey players, and I try not to rein them in,” Hardwick said. “If I was a guy who said the defensemen can’t go below the top of the circles, then we never would have scored that goal. 

“You’ve gotta give them some free rein to make those plays because, more often than not, they do.”

The goal was Comstock’s eighth of the season. More of a set-up guy than a closer, Comstock ranks third on the team with 29 points. Goal-scoring celebrations really aren’t a point of emphasis for him. But Comstock was ready with one, nonetheless.

He went past the player benches and straight toward the Warroad student section after scoring. Then he dove head first on the freshly resurfaced ice. At one point, teammate Carson Pilgrim hopped on his back.

“I saw it last year by (Andover’s) Gavyn Thoreson - shout out,” Comstock said. “And I was like, ‘This is the perfect time for it.’ ”

Turns out Comstock’s timing was spot on all afternoon. Especially with his stuck-on-repeat mantra. If he said it once, he said it a thousand times …

Want to win.

Warroad's Erick Comstock scored in double overtime Friday to keep the Warriors undefeated and send them to the state Class 1A title game for a second consecutive season. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

Quick Recap

ST. PAUL - Erick Comstock scored 16 seconds into the second overtime to lift undefeated No. 1 seed Warroad, the state’s lone unbeaten team, to a 4-3 victory over No. 4 seed Orono on Friday in a state Class 1A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center.

Comstock raced to the left side of the net, took a feed from Jayson Shaugabay and swiped the puck past Orono goaltender Brock Peyton to send the Warriors to the state championship game for a second consecutive season.

No. 4-1A Orono (24-6-0) rallied from a three-goal deficit early in the second period as Joey Greenagel scored late in the second and Avery Anderson netted one midway through the third to pull the Spartans to within 3-2. Brooks Fegers tied it with 7:47 remaining.

No. 1-1A Warroad (29-0-1) lost to Hermantown in last season’s championship game.

Peyton Sunderland and Carson Pilgrim scored in the first period and Shaugabay scored 41 seconds into the second as Warroad built its 3-0 lead.

Orono’s Joey Greenagel scored two goals in the Spartans’ 4-3 double-overtime loss to Warroad at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

Warroad junior Peyton Sunderland cuts across the slot on his way to a first-period goal against Orono in a Class 1A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Warriors defeated the Spartans 4-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

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