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BHS girls hockey: Jacks rally to defeat Grand Rapids-Greenway for major win

Bemidji's Jessica Christoferson (right) skates through the middle of the ice as Grand Rapids-Greenway's Molly Arola (left) defends during the first period Friday night at Nymore Arena. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji High assistant girls hockey coach Keith Hurd had a premonition after the second period of the Jacks game against state ranked Grand Rapids-Greenway Thursday.

Trailing 1-0 with a period to play Hurd said he told the team and coaches in the locker room, "We aren't done yet. We're going to win this one 2-1."

Call Hurd a partisan coach who was just trying to psyche up his team. Or maybe Karnack the Magnificent reincarnated, a guy ready for a new career on the fortune telling circuit.

Whatever the case, Hurd's prediction was right on the money.

Two third period goals in the span of 41 seconds gave the Jacks the hard fought one goal win against a quality opponent. GR-G was last year's state tournament runner up and ranked sixth in the latest Class AA state poll.

"This is the biggest win we've had as a program in the last two or three years," said Hurd. "It was a total team effort for three solid periods against a very good team."

The Jacks came out strong and carried the play in the first period as the teams skated to a 0-0 draw. BHS held an 8-3 shots on goal advantage and had two golden opportunities to score, but barely misfired.

The Jacks also got the better part of GR-G in the early part of the second period with three great chances. The best was a wraparound attempt by senior forward Haley Johnson that slid just wide of the goal near the 12:00 mark.

But it was GR-G who took control on the scoreboard, getting a 1-0 lead near the end of the period. The Lightning's' Dana Gallop rushed the puck along the near side boards and connected on a blast from the face off circle that beat Jacks' goalie Kaia Sele with just 1:09 remaining in the period.

The Jacks headed to the locker room trailing by a goal, but the coaching staff wasn't about to let the team get down. That's when Hurd made his pronouncement.

The Jacks then hit the ice for the third period and made their coach look, well, pretty darn smart.

The BHS special teams got the team back on track early in the period. GR-G started the third with a man advantage for 1:47 and the Jacks killed it off. Then the Jacks were whistled for a checking penalty with about four minutes gone. Once again the special teams stepped up and posted another big kill.

That set the stage for the scoring heroics a few minutes later.

"Our special teams have been playing very well," Hurd reported. "Our penalty kill has bailed us out night in, night out so far this season."

Near the mid-way point of the period the Jacks took control. Haley Johnson tied the game at 1-1 at the 8:49 mark with a fine individual effort goal.

Johnson rushed the puck into the Lightning zone and then made a great toe drag move to get around a GR-G defender at the face off circle. The move gave Johnson a clear path to the goal and she connected past GR-G goalie Jessica Havel.

The Jacks then went on the power play just 14 seconds later and made the Lightning pay, scoring what turned out to be the game winner.

This time it was senior forward Jess Christofferson who took matters into her own hands. Christofferson picked up a loose puck near the red line, cut to the middle of the ice and let fly a rocket shot from the high slot that beat Havel top shelf at 9:21.

That would be all it would take for the Jacks who improved their record to 5-1 on the season. GR-G fell to 6-2.

"This was a nice test for us," Hurd reported. "GR-G was a good indicator of where we stand and what we need to do to the reach the goals we've set this year.

"It was a big win and puts us the next rung up the ladder."

Sele had a fine night in net for the Jacks, stopping 23 of 24 GR-G shots.

"(Sele) fought back and played phenomenal in the third period," said Hurd. "She held up her end of the bargain and the team played well in front of her. That's what it takes to beat a quality opponent -- a total team effort"