BHS boys hockey: Dudgeon's 41 saves help Jacks end long losing drought against Spuds
Long after the game was finished Tuesday night, the Bemidji High boys hockey locker room was filled with the sounds of celebration.
Who could blame them? The Jacks had just ended a long, and often painful, winless streak against nemesis Moorhead, topping the Spuds 3-2 at the John Glas Fieldhouse.
How long of a losing streak? Nobody seemed to know for sure, not even venerable BHS sports historian Jim Carrington. But the consensus was the last time the Jacks defeated the Spuds in boys hockey occurred many years ago.
For certain, none of the BHS seniors had ever beaten Moorhead during their high school careers. And that's what made Tuesday's win so special -- the jinx had finally been broken.
That's the beauty of high school sports. Whenever two teams square off, no matter the skill level difference between the squads, the outcome is never certain.
The Spuds had easily beaten the Jacks earlier this season, winning 7-1 on Moorhead's home ice.
But this time, things would be different.
Riding the stellar goaltending of senior Derek Dudgeon and taking advantage of opportunities offensively, BHS shocked the 15th ranked Spuds.
Dudgeon ended the night facing 43 Moorhead shots and stopping 41, several of them spectacular.
"This is a huge win for our program," said BHS first year head coach Wade Chiodo. "I was really proud of our effort and how we battled for three periods.
"The boys played Lumberjack hockey -- moving their feet, playing hard and being disciplined. It was a huge step in the right direction for the program."
While the Jacks scored quickly to take a 1-0 lead in the first, things quickly went south for BHS. Moorhead came back with a pair to take a 2-1 lead into the first period break, while building a dominating 15-6 shots on goal advantage.
However, Dudgeon and the Jacks' defense dug deep from there and kept the potent Moorhead offense off the board the rest of the way. The Jacks scored single goals in the second and third to win by one.
"We've never beaten Moorhead during my time on the varsity," said Dudgeon, a senior. "Yeah, some of the losses in the past were tough. But we weren't thinking about the past. We came into the game after a tie with Grand Rapids and a win against Crookston -- we had a lot of confidence."
The Jacks took the early lead just 3:32 into the game. BHS defender Joseph Welle fired a shot from the point that was deflected by senior forward Jared Bergquist past Moorhead goalie Logan Marks.
Moorhead came back about two minutes later with a power play goal of its own as Lucas Henry gathered in a rebound in front and scored on a hard backhand.
What could have been the turning point of the game happened about seven minutes later. Moorhead won a face off in front of Dudgeon with the puck slowly sliding toward the net. Dudgeon went to his knees and tired to cover the puck with his glove hand. But the puck slowly trickled under the glove and through Dudgeon's pads into the net to give the Spuds a 2-1 lead.
Making such a glaring mistake on what looked to be a routine save could have wiped out Dudgeon's confidence.
However, the fluke goal had the exact opposite effect. Dudgeon dug deep and did not allow another goal over the final 38 minutes.
"At first, I was a little shaky," Dudgeon admitted after the game. "But after that goal, instead of getting more nervous, I actually was more comfortable."
Dudgeon made his first huge save on a point blank opportunity by Braden Rahmen after Moorhead's go-ahead goal. It was the first of a handful of great saves by Dudgeon over the next two periods.
The Jacks tied at the game at 2-2 with just over nine minutes gone in the second period. Jesse Nemgar hustled to a loose puck in the Jacks defensive zone, wheeled and began a rush up ice along the far boards. With a Moorhead defender covering him, Nemgar broke to the net and flicked a shot that somehow beat Marks short side.
That was all the scoring in the period and the teams entered the third period tied 2-2.
Max Hazelton got what turned out to be the game winner at the 5:30 mark of the third. The BHS sophomore corralled the puck at the side of the net and jammed it home to give the Jacks a lead they would not relinquish.
"(Kris Maggert) went hard to the puck behind the net and it just bounced out in front to me," Hazelton said. "I was able to grab it and score on short side."
That wasn't all the action in the final period. The Jacks had two more golden opportunities to score in the period as Braden Devescovi and Rylee Curb both sprung free on mini-breakaways that Marks was able to stop.
And Dudgeon made the save of the game with about 3:40 left in the game. Moorhead's Quin Buckellew had a shot at what looked to be a wide open net from point blank range. But Dudgeon made a huge glove save, seemingly coming out of nowhere. He had to wave his glove to show the referee he had the puck.
"My focus is for our team to play three complete periods where we are solid in all facets of the game," Chiodo said. "We were able to do that and get excellent play from our goaltender."
The result was a jubilant BHS locker room long after the last well-wisher had left the arena.
"The whole team is still really pumped," said a smiling Hazelton. "This was really big for the entire team, the entire program."
MHD 2 0 0 -- 2
BHS 1 1 1 -- 3
First Period -- 1, BHS, Jared Bergquist (Joseph Weller, Jesse Nemgar), 3:32 (pp). 2, MHD, Lucas Henry (Quin Buckellew. Ian Cochran), 5:57 (pp). 3, MHD, Henry (Tyler Larsen), 12:48. Penalties -- Henry, MHD (interference), 1:59, Braden Devescovi, BHS (hooking), 3:58, Jason Strand, MHD (hooking), 10:09
Second Period -- 4, BHS, Nemgar (Luke Burns, Issac Bitter), 9:03. Penalties -- Codi Wilder, MHD (holding), 2:35, Kevin Larson, BHS (holding), 6:46, Nemgar, BHS (hooking), 10:55. Bitter, BHS (roughing), 12:06, Alex Altenbernd (roughiong), 12:06
Third Period -- 5, BHS, Max Hazelton (unassisted), 5:30. Penalties -- none
Shots -- MHD 15-16-12 43, BHS 6-6-8 20
Saves -- MHD-Logan Marks (20 shots-17 saves), BHS-Derek Dudgeon (43 shots-41 saves)
Power Play -- MHD 1 of 3, BHS 1 of 3