The Bemidji High girls hockey team launched the winter sports season on a winning note Friday, beating Prior Lake 3-1 at the Dakotah Ice Center.
The new facility is a product of the Mystic Lake Casino which financed the building.
While the game was not nearly as close as the final score, Bemidji was never safe until hitting an open net with six seconds remaining.
Bemidji held a 2-0 lead, totally dominating play, until incurring a series of late game penalties that gave the Lakers a man power advantage for more than five minutes.
They already had scored once and launched seven of their nine shots in the game du ring the stretch but came up short.
Bemidji held a 31-1 shots bulge when the Lakers rallied.
The opening game mirrored Coach Matt Menne's pre-game prediction.
He held the team's strength would be in its veteran defensive corps and net minding. And he feared the team would have problems putting the puck into the net.
And while it had numerous opportunities all night, only three of its 36 shots found the net.
But he was well pleased with the result especially with the quality of the team's play.
"We've got to find a way to put the puck into the net," he said following the game "But that should come with added play."
Bemidji held a 14-1 shots bulge in the opening session, the lone Lakers shot coming from long range.
Yet it took 11 shots to get the first goal, Allie Lapp connecting at 10:09 off an Annie Swartz feed, skating in from the right boards to beat senior goalie Sage Fitzgerald-Prihoda from close range.
It was more of the same in period two, Bemidji holding a 12-0 shots on goal total.
The second goal came from Becca Gregg on a 4 on 4 situation, stealing the puck from a Laker defender behind the goal and skating around the net to tuck the puck home. Shelby Sauer drew the assist on the goal.
Bemidji had four power play chances in the period including a 31 second stretch of 5 on 3 late in the session.
The visitors recorded the first five shots of the final session to reach their 33-1 bulge and seemed on their way to an easy triumph.
But it was not to be. Each team drew an overlapping penalty in the early going. Three seconds before the Bemidji penalty ended, Michelle Jeurissen was credited with a Prior Lake goal which deflected off a Bemidji defender in a flurry in front of the net, slicing the lead to 2-1.
Encouraged by the unexpected score, the Lakers began finding the target with a number of shots, all of which were rejected by Maria Thompson.
Emily Larson ended the game with an empty net goal with Sauer and Lapp getting assists.
Fitzgerald-Prihoda ended the night with 33 saves. Thompson had only eight.
The win kept her varsity record spotless. She was 7-0 in games she started in 2009.
Bemidji 1 1 1---3
Prior Lake 0 0 1---1
FIRST PERIOD: Lapp (Swartz) 10:09; Penalty: Bem-Miller, check, 15:56
SECOND PERIOD: Gregg (Sauer) 12:47; Penalties: PL-Citrowski, check, 4:35; PL-Kuester, hook 11:52; Bem-J. Hunt, interference 12:24; PL-Anderson, check, 14:58; PL-Kuester, delay of game 16:27
THIRD PERIOD; PL-Jeurissen (Galles-Harris) 7:30 PP; Bem-:Larson (Sauer-Lapp) 16:54 empty net; Penalties: PL-Colucci, trip 5:13; Bem-J. Hunt, interference 5:33; Bem-Sauer, cross check 11:27; Bem-Lapp, trip 12:23; Bem-Gregg, hold 14:19
Bem-M. Thompson 1 0 7--- 8
PL-Fitzgerald-Prihoda 14 12 7---33
Power plays; Bemidji 0-5, Prior Lake 1-6