BEMIDJI – The St. Cloud Icebreakers learned a valuable lesson Saturday night at Bemidji Community Arena: Spending the majority of time in your own zone is no way to win a hockey game.
Bemidji blanked the Icebreakers 2-0 in the Section 8-2A quarterfinals.
The Jacks will hit the road to face the No. 1 seed, North Wright County (21-4-1), in Tuesday’s semifinal. North Wright beat Brainerd/Little Falls 8-0 Saturday night.
The shots on goal – 27-21 in favor of the Lumberjacks – are a misleading statistic. In both the opening and closing frames, the Icebreakers spent the first four minutes of the periods fending off a maelstrom of Bemidji (11-9-5) shots, and fighting futilely to clear the puck from their own end of the ice.
It wasn’t until 3:20 into the first period that St. Cloud (14-11-1) crossed the red line, and their first faceoff in Bemidji territory didn’t come until 12:30.
Even after St. Cloud goaltender Lucy Gaetz was pulled at 1:18 of the third in favor of an extra attacker, Bemidji kept coming. What was a two-goal game for Karleigh Wolkerstorfer could very easily have been an at-home hat trick – opportunities came virtually by the second even after St. Cloud had a man advantage to finish out the game.
The senior forward notched the game winner at 6:34 of the second period, but the icing on the cake came at 14:32 of the third.
Bemidji looked like a team on a power play during the sequence that gave Wolkerstorfer her second goal of the night, despite playing five-on-five hockey. After working to free the puck from the corner, Wolkerstorfer passed to Allie Heifort, who moved the puck to defensive partner Heather Olson along the blue line.
Olson fired and Wolkerstorfer, stalking the right side of the crease, redirected Olson’s shot over Gaetz’s right shoulder, pinging the crossbar, slapping the back of the net and initiating chants of “Start the bus” from the Bemidji student section.
St. Cloud 0 0 0 – 0
Bemidji 0 1 1 – 2
First period – No scoring.
Second period – 1, BHS Wolkerstorfer (Dondelinger, Booth), 6:34.
Third period –v 1, BHS Wolkerstorfer (Heifort, Olson), 14:32.