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Rough road ahead for WarHawks

Jake Schultz / Tribune Willmar's Braden Shea fires a shot on net in the first period of Sunday's game against Breezy Point at the Willmar Civic Center. 1 / 4
Jake Schultz / Tribune Willmar's Kane Toriumi tries to dangle between a pair of Breezy Point defenders Sunday afternoon at the Willmar Civic Center. 2 / 4
Jake Schultz / Tribune Willmar's Kyle Wendorf shoots and scores in the third period of Sunday's game against Breezy Point. 3 / 4
Jake Schultz / Tribune Willmar's Riley Dixon stick-handles in the first period of Sunday's 7-2 loss to Breezy Point. 4 / 4

WILLMAR—Another rocky first period made the Willmar WarHawks' path to the NA3HL playoffs a bit more difficult Sunday afternoon as they fell to Breezy Point 7-2 at the Willmar Civic Center.

The loss creates some difficulties for the WarHawks who now have eight points to make up between themselves and Breezy Point for the final playoff spot.

"I told the guys in the locker room (after the game) 'We're not done,'" Blaisuis said. "Our margin for error is less. We're going to the playoffs, our path is just a little harder now."

The North Stars got on the board after only 2:02 with a goal from Tristyn Sabina, his first of three on the afternoon. They doubled the lead minutes later with an Austin Langworthy power play goal that beat Willmar's Alex Weissenborn to put the game at 2-0.

"The start is what got us," said Willmar head coach Chris Blaisuis. "I think we were just heavy-legged at the start. We're constantly chasing games lately and that's a hard way to play. I honestly don't mind the way we played after the 2-0 start, it was a 3-2 game after that and I thought we carried the play but you fall behind 2-0 and we just chased."

Breezy Point kept up the pressure in the second period with a pair of goals including Nick Blanchette's power play goal with 7:44 to play to put the game at 4-0.

Willmar's Nathan Ackerman got his team on the board later in the period, though, with a fancy bit of stickhandling and effort to drive by three North Stars before sniping a shot past Bronson Moore.

"I thought it was a great goal and I thought it was going to get us going," Blaisuis said. "We were buzzing after that play. It was a great effort play by him."

Willmar put forth an amped up energy in the third period but that was cut short with Sabina's second goal of the game 4:45 into the period to put the game at 5-1. Willmar's Kyle Wendorf scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season just a minute later to try to put some life back into the game but they could never break through again. Breezy Point scored an empty net goal and another goal just before the end of the game for the 7-2 final.

"We had 33 shots over the last two periods and a lot of those were good looks but credit to their goalie (Bronson Moore)," Blaisuis said of his team that outshot the North Stars 40-34. "He made the saves. But it starts in the beginning. Down 2-0, you're immediately on your heels. Your margin for error evaporates at that point."

Breezy Point 7, Willmar 2

Breezy Point 2 2 3 — 7

Willmar 0 1 1 — 2

FIRST PERIOD — BP: Tristyn Sabina (Josh Laven, Matej Krasny) 2:02 ... BP: Austin Langworthy (Christian Lenzmeier, Dan Wieber) 5:28 pp

SECOND PERIOD — BP: Wyatt Stotts 3:06 ... BP: Nick Blanchette (Steven Kukla, Ryan Higgins) 12:16 pp ... W: Nathan Ackerman (Dylan Gast, Jonathan Koester) 16:22

THIRD PERIOD — BP: Sabina (Krasny) 4:45 ... W: Kyle Wendorf (Gabe Gauer) 5:53 ... BP: Sabina (Krasny) 19:00 en ... BP: Larsen Tubbs (Cyril Nagurski, Wieber) 19:38

GOALIE SAVES — Breezy Point: Bronson Moore 38 ... Willmar: Alex Weissenborn 14, Hayden Funk 10

Jake Schultz

Jake Schultz is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune, working his first job out of college. He graduated from St. John's University (CSB/SJU) in 2016 and is a baseball fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @StJake29. 

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