Boys hockey makes section debut
The Bemidji High boys hockey team makes its post season debut tonight, hosting St. Cloud Tech at 7 at Nymore Gardens.
Meanwhile the boys basketball team entertains Grand Forks Central at 7;30 at the Fieldhouse while the girls play a return engagement at Detroit Lakes.
The hockey team makes its return to the 8-2A tournament after spending the past two years competing in 8A.
It won its opener over Baudette 3-2 last year before bowing out to Thief River Falls 6-1.
Tonight's opener figures to be close. Bemidji brings a 13-12 mark into play to match against the Tigers 16-9. But surprisingly it gained the No. 4 seed to Tech's 5 on a ballot usually heavily weighted in favor of the St. Cloud area schools.
The winner will advance to Saturday's semifinals at top ranked Moorhead.
The Spuds take on eighth ranked River Lakes tonight. The Stars ousted Becker 8-0 in the play-in game Saturday.
Other openers send No. 6 Buffalo to No. 3 Brainerd and No. 7 Monticello to No. 2 Roseau.
Those two winners clash in the other Saturday semifinal.
The title game is March 3 at a neutral site tentatively set for Thief River Falls.
Despite their better won-lost record, Tech and Bemidji have played surprisingly even against common foes.Tech has fallen twice to Brainerd, split with Roseau and Alexandria and dropped a single test with Warroad while sweeping Fergus Falls.
Bemidji has fallen twice to Warroad and Moorhead and once to Roseau, Alex and Fergus Falls.
Tech comes in with a five game winning string. Bemidji has lost four of its last five.
But the home ice advantage may prove a deciding factor with Bemidji always comfortable in Nymore.
The girls used the Gardens to beat Brainerd and Moorhead to reach the section final. The boys hope to do likewise.
"We're back in good health for the first time in three weeks," said Coach Wade Chiodo.
"We have to move our feet and go out and play hard from the opening faceoff to the final horn. If we do we stand a good chance of winning."
Like Bemidji, Tech is a quick team with a couple of good scorers.
Bemidji can match them in both of those categories with Jesse Nemgar and Rylee Curb as solid scoring threats.
Nemgar has 40 points and Curb 30
Axel Osborn has won the goalie battle and will make his third straight start tonight He has yielded only two goals in the past two starts and has four shutouts on the season.,
Nemgar will center John Forseth and Jordan Heller on one line. Max Hazelton goes between Steve Heller and Curb on another. Mike Rees and Will Bruestle are wings on the Lucas Phillips line while Tyler Follis has Luke Burns and Brady Devescovi as his wings
Defensive pairs are Kevin Larson with Joe Welle, Tyler Tatro with Isaac Bitter and Cam Dahedl with Matt Hietala.
All but one of the top nine forwards is in double figures with team balance one of its strong suits.
Larson, Welle and Bitter of the six blue line players also are in double figures.
Both basketball teams are heavy favorites tonight.
The boys carry a 14-7 mark to their game after an upset win over state ranked Rocori Saturday .
Central is a last place team in the Eastern Dakota Conference and brings a 1-14 record into play.
Among their setbacks are game to Thief River, East Grand Forks and Red River, teams Bemidji has defeated this winter.
Their only win came over Wahpeton in their second game of the year.
Bemidji has been averaging in the 60's much of the winter topping that mark in18 of their 21 starts.
Coach Jeff Brown will stick with his normal starting five which finds Grant Richardson in the post, Dan Frost along the baseline and Ryan Rude, and Czar and Carey Woods around the perimeter.
Carey Woods and Rude are in almost a dead heat for the scoring lead with Woods at 346 and Rude 345.
Czar Woods hit a season high 21 in the Rocori win.
Josh Kane, Harley Kroening, Mitch Brown and Cody Rutledge will be first off the bench.
Girls seek repeat
The girls are seeking to repeat their 74-32 win over DL here earlier this winter but can expect to find DL far stronger on its home court,. Bemidji is 21-1 and will end its regular session at home Thursday with Grand Rapids, a team it beat 72-42 at the Rapids in December.
The two games should continue to give Coach Rick Kehoe more opportunities to test his second and third units in extended play to set his tournament lineup.
Kayla Hirt enters the week needing 34 points to reach 600 and should top that figure.
But the team is continuing to improve its scoring balance of late.
Kelsey Heisler will join Hirt up front with Abby Hendricks Erika Weimann and Megan Huseby outside and Jess Yost, Kenzie Kane, Selina Gilbertson and Caitlin Gangelhoff first off the bench.
The B Team has reached 9-12 and the C Team 11-5.