John J. McRae Bemidji Pioneer
The Bemidji High boys hockey team celebrated its first official game at the new Bemidji Community Arena Tuesday, defeating Section 8 foe Lake of the Woods 3-2.
The Jacks improved to 10-6-1 on the year with the historic win, played in front of a large and appreciative crowd.
The Jacks jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period and then made the advantage stand up. LOW came back with the only goal of the third period to make it a one goal game, but could get no closer.
“At times we played great (Tuesday),” said BHS head coach Wade Chiodo, “and at other times we were flat and not moving out feet at all. In the end we came away with a big section win; we’ll take it and get out of here.”
BHS junior forward Mike Rees etched his name in the history books, scoring the first official high school varsity goal at the new arena. Will Bruestle found Rees at the side of the net and Rees ripped a quick wrist shot five hole past LOW goalie Alex Lyon at 6:32 of the first.
The visitors came back to tie the game about seven minutes later. Jordan Hanson connected on a long wrist shot from just a stride inside the blue line to even the count. The flipping puck fooled BHS goalie Derek Dudgeon, going over his shoulder to the back of the net.
The Jacks special teams took over in the second period and that turned out to be the difference maker in the game.
With LOW a man short due to a carry-over penalty from the first period, the Jacks struck quickly.
Joseph Welle took a blast from the point that was stopped by Lyon. But the Jacks’ Jared Bergquist was on the spot and scored on the rebound just 32 seconds into the period.
The Jacks then scored what turned out to be the game winner with just eight seconds remaining in the second. With the Jacks on the penalty kill, Rees was the recipient of a big play by junior forward Jesse Nemgar. Nemagar battled for the puck along the far boards, moving the puck toward the LOW goal.
After winning several battles he dug the puck loose and found Rees near the slot with a fine pass. Rees did the rest, giving the Jacks a 3-1 lead.
“(Nemgar) had an excellent game,” Chiodo said. “He made it happen on the short hander, battling and doing the dirty work. He found the open man and Rees did the rest.”
While the Jacks carried the play in most of the third, LOW battled back to make it a game. Jalen Stay scored following a breakaway attempt that hit the cross bar and rebounded wide. Stay as there to connect on the rebound at 4:52.
Dudgeon made the save of the game with just under four minutes left to preserve the win. LOW’s Josh Smart found himself alone in the slot staring at an open net. But Dudgeon flew across the crease and made a huge blocker save to deny LOW the tie.
The Jacks held a huge 33-16 shot advantage in the game.
“We have a rough stretch of games ahead of us against quality teams and then it’s playoff time,” said Chiodo. “We need to find a way to have a sustained effort for three periods. We’ll have to play that way or it’s going to be a tough haul for us.
“(Tuesday) we’d have a great shift, and then the next one of two shifts would be flat. We need to change that.”
The Jacks return to action Friday, heading north to take on state power Roseau.
Bemidji JV Downs LOW 3-2
The Lumberjack junior varsity made it a sweep on the night, winning 2-1.
A pair of second period goals from Nick Maggert and Kaleb Hanson propelled the Jacks to the win. Axel Osborn got the win in net for BHS, stopping 15 of 16 LOW shots.
The junior varsity improved to 10-6-1 as well.
LOW 1 0 1 — 2
BHS 1 2 0 — 3
First Period — 1, BHS, Mike Rees (Will Bruestle, Max Hazelton), 6:32. 2, LOW, Jordan Hanson (Josh Smart), 13:13. Penalties — Chris Blotske, BHS (interference), 7:21, Jake Pelach, LOW (interference), 16:05
Second Period — 3, BHS, Jared Bergquist (Joseph Welle, Jesse Nemgar), :32 (pp). 4, BHS, Rees (Nemgar), 16:22 (sh). Penalties — Kevin Larson, BHS (tripping), 3:28, Chad Reed, LOW (elbowing), 9:25, Reed. LOW (cross-checking), 13:59, Lucas Phillips, BHS (cross-checking), 16:42
Third Period — 5, LOW, Jalen Stay (Smart, Cody Hasbargen), 4:52. Penalties — none
Shots — LOW 5-4-7 16, BHS 9-11-13 33
Saves — LOW-Alex Lyon (33 shots-30 saves), BHS-Derek Dudgeon (16 shots-14 saves)