BEMIDJI – Gabe Heifort knew he’d see a lot of shots against Roseau – that much was a given.
“Before the game we were talking about how we needed this win,” the Bemidji sophomore goaltender said. “Last time around they put a lot of shots on net so I knew I’d be making some saves.”
Heifort saw 53 shots when the Lumberjacks took on the Rams earlier in January. The Jacks lost 4-3 in Roseau despite Heifort’s big game.On Thursday night at Bemidji Community Arena, Heifort once again stood tall, and his teammates backed him up.
Heifort made a dazzling array of saves – 38 of them, to be exact – Mike Sauer had a goal and three assists and Matt Serratore scored twice in the second period to help lift Bemidji past Roseau 4-2.
“We knew we’d get outshot,” BHS head coach Wade Chiodo said. “So we had to make it difficult for them all over the ice. We wanted to outwork them for three complete periods and we did that tonight.”
Despite being outshot 40-20 the Lumberjacks (7-13-1) played sound defense and allowed just one questionable goal – on a turnover in the third period.
Other than that Bemidji took advantage of its opportunities to pull off a win that will be crucial for the Section 8AA playoff seeding.
“This one was huge for us,” Serratore said. “We kind of rose to the occasion. We knew Roseau was a tough team but we did everything we had to do to win as a team.”
Roseau (12-8-1) had taken the game’s first lead midway through the second period.
The Rams’ heavy forecheck dominated possession in the first half of the middle frame, and they capitalized on it with a power play goal at the 9:44 mark to go up 1-0.
Heifort had made an athletic kick save on a shot from Roseau’s Zach Yon, but Alex Strand was in the right place at the right time. The puck zipped off Heifort’s right pad and right to the blade of Strand’s stick, who buzzed it for the goal.
Serratore tied things up at 1-1 just two minutes later, the first of three unanswered BHS goals.
In addition to Heifort’s big night in net, a goal just before and another just after the second intermission pushed momentum in Bemidji’s favor.
With just 13 seconds to go before the second period horn and with the Lumberjacks on the power play, Sauer hit Serratore for a nifty give-and-go. The senior beat Roseau goalie Ryan Anderson to put Bemidji up 2-1.
The Jacks wasted little time making it 3-1 after the break. Just 32 seconds into the third period, Sauer corralled a rebound on a shot from Seth Neubeck and looped the puck over Anderson’s head.
“Those two scores were a huge lift for us,” Heifort said. “Whenever your team scores with 14 seconds left in a period it gives you a lot of momentum and confidence.”
Strand scored his second goal at the 2:33 mark of the third, briefly cutting Bemidji’s lead to 3-2.
But Bemidji defenseman Sam Bruestle gave the Lumberjacks some breathing room later in the third period, knocking home a big slap shot from the point at 11:39 for Bemidji’s second power play goal of the game. Sauer assisted on that goal.
In all, the Lumberjacks were 2-for-4 on the power play.
“That’s a good hockey team,” Chiodo said of Roseau. “This was sort of a must-win for us in sections. This should help us get a better seed for the playoffs and maybe a home game.”
The Lumberjacks return to the ice Saturday, when they’ll host Breck at 2 p.m. at the BCA.
Roseau 0 1 1 – 2
Bemidji 0 2 2 – 4
First Period – No Scoring.
Second Period – 1, Ros, Strand 1 (Yon), 9:44, PP; 2, BHS, Serratore 1 (Sauer 1), 11:36; 3, BHS, Serratore 2 (Sauer 2), 16:47, PP.
Third Period – 4, BHS, Sauer (Neubeck, Bruestle), 0:32; 5, Ros, Strand 2 (Bjugson), 2:33; 6, BHS, Bruestle (Sauer 3, Forseth), 11:39, PP.
Goaltenders – Ros, Anderson (20-16); BHS, Heifort (40-38).
Shots On Goal – Roseau (11-16-13-20); Bemidji (5-8-6-20).
Penalties-Minutes – Roseau 4-8; Bemidji 4-8.
Power Plays – Roseau 1-for-4; Bemidji 2-for-4.