BEMIDJI – Following Tuesday’s game at the Sanford Center a bystander could hear applause coming from the Bemidji boys locker room. The Lumberjacks had just rallied to defeat Crookston 4-3 in overtime and the boys had plenty to cheer about.
“Obviously, we weren’t at the top of our game Tuesday but we hung in there and hung in there,” said BHS coach Wade Chiodo. “Our goalie, Grant Tharaldson, did a great job and in the third period we were still in the game trailing only 3-2.
“And then the boys found a way to win. It might have been an ugly win but it was a ‘W’ and I’m happy that the kids had this success.”
As has been the custom this winter the Jacks struggled to generate much offense. After the first period they trailed 1-0 but Tharaldson made 13 saves to keep Bemidji within shouting distance.
Crookston peppered the Bemidji net with 11 more shots in the middle stanza and slipped two pucks past Tharaldson. The Lumberjacks, however, answered with two goals of their own and trailed only 3-2 heading into the third period.
Crookston owned a 2-0 cushion midway through the second stanza when Bemidji made its move.
Sparking the comeback was Brett Hartje who found room at the left circle and snapped a shot off the post. Ben Christopher was crashing the net and when the rebound slid to the right crease Christopher was in perfect position to bang it home.
Before the Pirates knew what had happened, the Lumberjacks struck again. Only 18 seconds after Christopher’s tally Matt Serratore beat Crookston goalie Parker Epema from the left circle and the score was tied 2-2.
The visitors regained the lead at 3-2 with 2:53 to play in the period but the Jacks were back in business.
“The kids were sluggish for most of the first two periods but somebody stepped up for us and his name was Grant,” Chiodo said, saluting his goalie. “He kept us in the game and gave us the chance to come back at the end.”
Bemidji squandered a handful of quality scoring chances in the third period, including a pair of uncontested breakaways. But with 3:42 remaining in regulation the Lumberjacks were rewarded for their hard work when Serratore worked a 2-on-1 with Mike Sauer and, using his teammate as a decoy, Serratore ripped a wrister into the net from the right circle.
Late in regulation Crookston was whistled for a pair of penalties and BHS had a 5-on-3 advantage heading into the overtime.
The first penalty had just expired when Sauer blasted a shot from the blue line.
The shot bounced off traffic and hit the ice near the right post. Hartje was in the right place at the right time.
The junior swatted it home for the game-winner.
“When we scored in the third period you could see that we had more pep and we carried that pep into the overtime,” Chiodo said. “I think this is the type of game that could propel us. But it’s up to us to run the motor.”
Tuesday’s win upped Bemidji’s record to 5-8-1. The Jacks return to action Saturday when they head to Roseau for a 3 p.m. game.
Crookston 1 2 0 0 - 3
Bemidji 0 2 1 1 - 4
First period – 1, Cr, Regan (Larson) 11:16
Second period – 2, Cr, Morgan (Bittner, Edevold) 4:52 PP. 3, BHS, Christopher (Hartje) 8:22. 4, BHS, Serratore (Fitzgerald, Sauer) 8:40. 5, Cr, Larson (unassisted) 14:07
Third period – 6, BHS, Serratore (Sauer, Mistic) 13:18
Overtime – 7, BHS, Hartje (Serratore, Sauer) 0:40 PP
Saves – Crookston, Epema 5-4-6-0-15; BHS, Tharaldson 13-9-7-0-29
Penalties/minutes: Crookston 4/8; BHS 2/4