GIRLS HOCKEY: Bemidji hangs on to topple Alexandria 3-1
BEMIDJI -- Despite capturing an early 2-0 lead and dominating play for most of the game, the Bemidji High School girls hockey players knew they didn't have much margin for error against Alexandria Saturday afternoon.
This proved especially true after Alexandria's Hannah Hansen scored an impressive 4-on-4 goal with less than five minutes to go, pulling the Cardinals to within a goal.
Despite spending almost the entire final four minutes of the game shorthanded, Bemidji's Savanna Hanson scored to help the Jacks escape with a 3-1 win Saturday at Bemidji Community Arena. Saturday's victory extended the Lumberjacks' unbeaten streak to five games.
"We just kept fighting," said BHS senior Jordyn Follis, who scored a goal in the Lumberjacks' win. "After they scored that goal to cut the lead we knew we had to keep up the intensity to beat them. We never backed down."
The Jacks (8-10-3) took an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Follis and Sylvia Grimm less than two minutes apart in the first period.
But a late push by the opportunistic Cardinals (11-9-1) helped them get to within one.
A penalty on Alexandria's Nicole Bartels gave the Lumberjacks a power play 12 minutes into the final frame but it was short-lived as Bemidji's Heather Olson was called for a high stick a minute later.
That gave the Cardinals an opportunity with the wide-open ice. Hanah Hansen got a feed from Rachel Drew in front of BHS goalie Leighton Rockensock and, as she was falling onto her backside, somehow found a way to get it past the BHS goalie at the 13:35 mark.
BHS head coach Jackie Robertson said she told her team to step back and play conservatively in the third -- don't take any risks but go for a goal if it's a good chance.
"We were trying to play more defensive," Robertson said. "I told the girls after Alex scored that goal not to take too many chances and make sure we didn't do anything risky."
Bartels left the penalty box 30 seconds after the Cardinals' goal to give Alexandria a power play but instead it was the Lumberjacks who took the lead.
Savanna Hanson answered right back with a shorthanded goal assisted by Jacie Lalli and Mackenzie Hietala.
"That gave us a little break," Follis said of the goal "We knew it would be tough playing shorthanded for so long but that was an awesome goal to show our strength. Even when we're tired we're not going to back down."
The Lumberjacks would have to play the entire rest of the game a player down, as Heitala went to the box for interference with just under two minutes to go.
The Cardinals pulled goaltender Bailey Serum with a minute left but couldn't pull back within one and the Jacks held on for the win.
Rockensock made 15 saves on 16 Alexandria shots while Serum made 21 saves on 24 shots.
Saturday's game was the end of a long week for the Lumberjacks in which they played four games and went 3-0-1 -- including a 2-2 tie against No. 3-ranked East Grand Forks. They have two games left in the regular season -- both on the road -- and Robertson said she hopes to finish the season unbeaten.
"That tie gave us a little confidence-booster for the last few weeks of the season," Robertson said. "We know we have to play like this when the playoffs begin so we want to keep going."
The Lumberjacks travel to Moorhead and River Lakes next week.
Bemidji 3, Alexandria 1
Alex 0 0 1 -- 1
BHS 2 0 1 -- 3
First Period -- 1, BHS, Follis (Schultz, Ha.Olson), 4:50; 2, BHS, Grimm (Dondelinger), 6:31.
Second Period -- No Scoring.
Third Period -- 3, Alex, Hansen (Drew, Niska), 13:35; 4, BHS, Hanson (Lalli, Hietala),14:16, SH.
Goaltenders (Shots-Saves) -- Alex, Serum (24-21); BHS, Rockensock (16-15). Penalties-Minutes -- Alex, 5-10; BHS, 3-6.