Bemidji is considered to be among the top teams in the section girls hockey ranks. Ashley Stenerson of Moorhead is considered to be among the section's top players.
The Lumberjacks and Stenerson squared off Tuesday night at the John Glas Fieldhouse and the result was a 2-2 overtime tie.
"Our effort was good but I'm not satisfied with the outcome. We shouldn't be satisfied with a tie," said Bemidji coach Matt Menne. "Moorhead came in and gave us its best effort. We played hard but we didn't play with enough urgency. I think we matched Moorhead (6-8-1) but this is a game we could have used as a learning tool for the playoffs."
Territorially the Lumberjacks (13-3-1) fared better than their guest as Bemidji controlled play for longer stretches and finished with a 23-17 advantage in shots on goal. Many more opportunities, however, were squandered with shots that missed the net or passes that failed to connect.
Stenerson scored both Moorhead goals and they came in the third period. Emily Larson matched that performance, however, as she gave BHS a 1-0 lead in the second period and tallied again with 1:44 to play in regulation to force overtime.
Neither team scored in the extra session, an 8-minute span that saw the home team outshoot the Spuds 3-0.
"We did a nice job controlling territory, especially in the second half of the game," Menne said. "But we missed the net on about 20 shots. I think we were in our comfort zone too much and we have to get out of that comfort zone by the time the playoffs arrive."
After a scoreless first period that produced only four shots on net (one by Bemidji), Larson notched her fourth goal of the season 3:54 into the middle stanza.
Camped at the right point Larson fired a high shot which was tipped on its way to the net. Moorhead goaltender Lydia Norwig couldn't react in time and the puck sailed over her shoulder.
The 1-0 score continued into the third session but the lead was tenuous as Stenerson was hitting her stride.
After being denied on a number of solid scoring opportunities Stenerson finally connected for the tying goal at 5:20 when she stole the puck from the BHS defense and scored on a solo rush. With less than four minutes remaining in the third period, the senior struck again, this time grabbing a loose puck following a faceoff in the Bemidji zone and sending a low shot through traffic and past a screened Maria Thompson.
Fortunately for the Jacks, Larson matched Stenerson's effort and her successful stuff from just outside the crease tied the game with 1:44 to play and forced overtime.
Although not satisfied with Tuesday's tie, Menne believes that the result and the effort can lead to rewards down the line.
"These games can be meaningful because they show that you need to play every shift," the coach said. "We didn't take any shifts off (against Moorhead) but I think we need to find that something extra. I think we have a little more that we can tap into and we have one month to figure out what that something extra is."
Moorhead 0 0 2 0 - 2
Bemidji 0 1 1 0 - 2
First Period - No scoring. Penalties: M-Haasbeek (trip) 4:38; B-Heifort (trip) 10:10; M-Stenerson (slash) 11:43; B-Heifort (check) 14:09.
Second Period - B-Larson 4 (Miller, Gregg) 3:54. Penalties: M-Kagan (check) 1:15; M-Drechsel (check) 8:02; B-Larson (hold) 13:57.
Third Period - M-Stenerson (unassisted) 5:20; M-Stenerson (Carey) 13:08; B-Larson 5 (Gregg) 15:16. Penalties: None.
Overtime - No scoring. No penalties.
Power plays: Moorhead 0-3; Bemidji 0-4
Saves - Norwig (M) 1 9 8 3 - 21. Thompson (B) 3 8 4 0 - 15