BOYS HOCKEY: Jacks earn 2-2 draw against section foes Brainerd
BEMIDJI — The Section 8-2A boys hockey seedings will be determined today.
The QRF numbers actually mean little when it comes to the final seeding because the positions will be determined by a vote of the coaches, but a strong performance against Brainerd would have definitely influenced the pollsters.
The Lumberjacks knew what was at stake Tuesday, playing a sound game and eventually battling Brainerd to a 2-2 overtime draw.
The result gave BHS a 10-12-2 record heading into today’s seeding conference call while Brainerd is 14-7-2.
The Jacks will end their regular season at home Friday against Class A No. 11 Thief River Falls but that outcome will have no bearing on postseason play.
BHS was especially impressive in Tuesday’s first period as the Jacks outshot Brainerd 12-4 and outscored the Warriors 2-0.
The majority of the stanza was spent in Brainerd’s defensive zone and the constant pressure took its toll on the Warriors.
About four minutes into the period Bemidji’s Noah Burns was denied on a quick wrist shot from the left circle but the Jacks scored a few seconds later when they won the faceoff to Erik Fitzgerald at the blue line and Fitzgerald’s shot was tipped by traffic past Brainerd goalie Brady Mick.
With 5:30 to play the Lumberjacks struck again. After Brett Isensee’s sneaky backhander from the slot was denied BHS continued to press and Isensee fared better on his next opportunity, zipping the puck past Mick.
The roles were reversed in the second period as Brainerd picked up the pace and the Lumberjacks spent the majority of the 17 minutes chasing instead of attacking. With goalie Gabe Heifort leading the way with a 13-save effort in the period, Bemidji almost escaped unscathed. The Warriors, however, scored with 17 seconds to play in the stanza while on the power play and drew within 2-1 after two periods.
The play was even in the third session. Brainerd held an edge early but the Lumberjacks controlled the flow at the end.
Both teams had opportunities to put the puck into the net but the goalies continually rose to the occasion. The best save of the night was posted by Mick as he thwarted a 2-on-0 BHS rush with 10:23 to play.
Isensee and Jake Leitner combined for the opportunity as Isensee gained control at center and headed into the Warriors zone on the right side.
When he reached the right circle Isensee hit a streaking Leitner in full stride and Leitner’s tip into what appeared to be the open left side of the net brought Bemidji’s fans to their feet.
Somehow, however, Mick slid through the crease and was able to deny Leitner with a toe save.
Bemidji maintained its 2-1 lead into the final minutes but, once again, the Jacks were bitten by a late goal. The visitors pulled Mick with 1:39 to play in regulation and 34 seconds later they were rewarded when Christopher Pohlkamp found the puck between the circles, worked a spin move to his forehand and beat Heifort with a screen shot.
Neither team scored in the overtime as both goalies stopped the five shots sent their way.
Both goalies finished with 31 saves.
Bemidji 2, Brainerd 2, OT
Brainerd 0 1 1 0 - 2
Bemidji 2 0 0 0 - 2
First period - 1, Bem, Fitzgerald (Neubeck) 4:07. 2, Bem, Isensee (Burns, Neubeck) 11:36
Second period - 3, Bra, Smith (Pohlkamp, Mimmack) 16:43 PP
Third period - 4, Bra, Pohlkamp (Stoxen, Ellingson) 15:55
Overtime - No scoring
Saves - Mick (Bra) 10-6-10-5-31; Heifort (Bem) 4-13-9-5-31
Penalties/minutes - Brainerd 9/18; Bemidji 4/8