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BOYS HOCKEY: Bemidji falls to Brainerd in rematch of last year’s finale

Bemidji High School senior Josh Baker (34) takes off on a breakaway in the first period against Brainerd on Thursday at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Bemidji High School senior Nick Mannausau (20) passes the puck in front of the Brainerd net in the first period on Thursday at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- After Bemidji handed the Warriors of Warroad a 3-0 shutout on Tuesday, the Jacks were on the receiving end of the treatment Saturday against a different Warriors team.

In a rematch of the Lumberjacks’ final game of last season – which resulted in a 5-4 overtime loss – Brainerd topped Bemidji 2-0 at Bemidji Community Arena.

Bemidji (1-1) largely struggled to get anything going in their direction throughout the game, which allowed Brainerd (1-1) to be comfortable once junior forward Will Lundstrom tipped one past Matt Fitzgerald into the Bemidji net for the opening goal at the 12:22 mark of the first period.

“It wasn’t so much what they were doing,” Bemidji head coach Eric Monsrud said. “It was kind of what we were doing. We just weren’t supporting the puck very well in the offensive zone, and our forecheck, we weren’t getting after them like we’d like to and we were just giving them too much space in their own zone.”

The Lumberjacks were 0-7 on the power play on the night, and Brainerd even stole a short-handed goal midway through the second period when Wyatt Andres sprung free on a breakaway and sniped the top right corner of the net.

“Tonight we just weren’t moving the puck,” said Monsrud. “We weren’t moving the puck like we were capable of doing, and that was the tale of the story. We weren’t moving the puck, they were and they were moving their feet.”

The momentum swung in Bemidji’s direction late in the second frame and into the third, but the Jacks couldn’t muster quality chances on net.

With 2 minutes, 38 seconds left in the game, Brainerd took a five-minute contact to the head penalty, which gave the Jacks a lengthy chance with a two-man advantage when they pulled Fitzgerald for the extra attacker.

But ultimately Colin Kleffman was up for the task between the pipes for the Warriors, and he secured a 25-save shutout.

After last year’s result, Monsrud said that while the Jacks hadn’t forgotten about the tough loss, it’s a fresh season.

“You definitely want to go back after somebody that’s knocked you out of the playoffs,” He said. “But you’ve got to remember, too, this is a lot of new guys, a lot of new guys on their team. It’s a new season. It’s a marathon of a season, it’s not a sprint. Tonight we just didn’t play a very good game.”

Bemidji hits the BCA ice again at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, when they take on The Blake School.

“We know nothing about Blake, and that’s fine,” Monsrud said. “I’m more worried about what we’re doing. If we just play good position hockey and play hard, we’re going to be all right. Tonight we didn’t play good position hockey, and we weren’t playing hard.”

Brainerd 2, Bemidji 0

BRA 1 1 0 -- 2

BEM 0 0 0 -- 0

First Period -- 1, BRA, Lundstrom (Karsnia, Marthaler), 12:22.

Second Period -- 2, BRA, Wy. Andres (Unassisted), 10:49.

Third Period -- No Scoring.

Goaltending (Shots-Saves) -- BEM, Fitzgerald (30-28); BRA, Kleffman (25-25)

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