Janie Johnson scored the inaugural Bemidji High School goal at the Bemidji Regional Event Center, but Thief River Falls spoiled the Lumberjacks' debut in the facility as the Prowlers posted a 4-2 victory Friday.
The visitors outscored BHS 3-1 in the first period and, after the Jacks drew within 3-2 with 5:36 remaining in the third stanza on Allison Lapp's shorthanded tally, TRF iced the win with a power-play goal 21 seconds later.
"I thought the goal we scored with five minutes to play would catapult us the rest of the way but then we gave up a demoralizing goal right away," said BHS coach Matt Menne.
"I told the girls on that penalty kill to go out and think aggressive offense and they responded with the goal. But that style of play can also lead to opportunities for the other team and Thief River Falls did the same thing to us."
The Prowlers had a game in hand on the Jacks as earlier this week they tied East Grand Forks. Menne believes that extra game gave Thief River Falls an edge Friday night.
"I think we had the first-game jitters while Thief River Falls already had a gun fight under their belts and they came out on fire," the coach said. "We were a little slow, especially in the first period."
The Prowlers took advantage of their early opportunities as they outscored Bemidji 3-1 in the opening 17 minutes.
Emily Bergland pounced on a rebound and beat BHS goalie Emily Denzer 4:04 into the action, but the Jacks used their speed to tie the game three minutes later.
Bemidji's defense cleared the puck into TRF's end of the ice and Janie Johnson raced into the offensive zone to gain possession. The senior corralled the puck at the right circle, cut to the slot and zipped a waist-high wrister just inside the left post.
The visitors, however, answered quickly as Morgan Martell beat Denzer from the top of the left circle at 9:24 and Bergland scored her second goal of the game one minute later when she re-directed a centering pass.
"It looked to me like we were outworked," Menne said. "Offensively we didn't have enough presence in front of the net to take advantage of the rebounds and defensively we had trouble holding the puck into the Thief River Falls zone. But we are a work in progress and we knew that coming in."
After a scoreless second period the Lumberjacks regained the momentum when Lapp raced to the net and jammed home a rebound of Allie Heifort's shot from the blue line.
TRF, however, promptly answered when Jordan Solheim found the net with a low screen shot from the slot.
Denzer finished with 25 saves while Frances Marshall had 20.
"After the game we emphasized three things about this game and the season," Menne said.
"We know that hard work will make us successful and we need to become a family and win or lose as one.
"We also are at the foothills of a mountain right now and by the end of a long season we will need to get to its top.
And we will do that by taking things a step at a time," Menne added.
The next competitive step will be taken Tuesday when Bemidji plays at Roseau. After the Thanksgiving break BHS will head to Buffalo where it will battle the host team on Friday and North Wright County on Saturday.
TRF 3 0 1 - 4
Bemidji 1 0 1 - 2
TRF-Bergland (Marolt) 4:04; B-Johnson (unassisted) 7:05; TRF-Martell (unassisted0 9:24; TRF-Bergland (Malwitz) 10:34. Penalty: B-Booth (trip) 1:46
No scoring. Penalties: TRF-Hunt (trip) 13:52; B-Nelson (check) 16:59
B-Lapp (Heifort) 11:24 SH; TRF-Martell (Solheim) 11:45 PP. Penalties: TRF-Marolt (hold) 6:18; B-Johnson (cross check) 10:23; TRF-Solheim (hold) 12:14
Marshall (TRF) 6 5 9 - 20
Denzer (B) 8 10 7 - 25