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BOYS HOCKEY: Spuds topple Lumberjacks in OT

Bemidji’s Sam Bruestle crosses the blue line and takes a shot at the Moorhead net during the first period of their game Thursday night at the Bemidji Community Arena. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Austin Skjefte scored 41 seconds into overtime to lift Moorhead to a 2-1 victory over the Bemidji boys hockey team Thursday at the Bemidji Community Arena.

After Bemidji forced the extra session with a goal late in the third period, Skejeft ended the suspense early in the OT when he grabbed a loose puck, skated between the circles and zipped a shot past BHS goalie Grand Tharaldson.

The shot capped a hard-hitting and fast-paced game that saw both teams deliver and absorb numerous hits.

The first period featured that style of play but the Lumberjacks held a territorial edge most of the stanza. Despite spending the majority of the time in the Moorhead defensive zone and outshooting the Spuds 8-6, the Jacks could not get a puck past Moorhead goalie Jacob Dittmer.

The junior made a handful of great stops and also was the beneficiary of some favorable bounces.

Bemidji was on the attack from the outset and less than two minutes into the game the Lumberjacks manufactured the game’s initial scoring chance when Michael Forseth wristed a shot from the blue line. On its way to the net the puck was tipped by Josh Lusby but the deflection slid just wide of the left post.

BHS was on the power play five minutes into the contest when Jake Leitner set up Brett Isensee for a shot from the slot. Dittmer made the save but Rocky Copiskey was in position to grab the rebound. His shot, however, was just wide of the net and Dittmer and the Spuds escaped.

The visitors also had their chances against Tharaldson but the junior was able to make the necessary saves.

With 3:45 to play Tharaldson denied Skjefte who worked his way ahead of the defense for an open shot from the lower left circle and in the waning seconds Tharaldson also robbed Alex Mehnert who had an open look from the same spot.

The Jacks failed to score during seven minutes of power play and Moorhead couldn’t find the net on its two minutes with the man advantage.

BHS squandered another power play early in the second period and Moorhead began to take charge after that successful penalty kill. The pressure eventually paid dividends when the Spuds scored on a 3-on-1 rush nine minutes into the stanza.

Aaron Herdt did the honors and he blistered a wrister from between the circles over Tharaldson’s shoulder. Mehnert and Will Borgen assisted on the goal.

A minute later Alex Schmidt was open in the slot between the circles but this time Tharaldson was able to make the save.

With four minutes to play in the stanza Herdt had another great scoring chance as he skated in from the left side and worked his way to the crease area. Tharaldson was up to the task, however, and after the save Bemidji’s Jack Johnson and Herdt were both assessed roughing penalties.

Moorhead maintained its momentum the rest of the period but could not put another puck past Tharaldson.

Dittmer continued his stellar play early in the third stanza when he denied Johnson’s shot from the left circle and also pounced on the rebound in the crease while players from both teams converged.

A minute later the Spuds came an inch away from doubling their cushion when Jacob Odegard’s shot from the right side clanked off the post.

Bemidji pressed for the tying goal in the final 10 minutes and came within a whisker of drawing even with 5:40 to play when Brett Isensee’s shot from the right point was tipped by Noah Burns but Dittmer was in position to make the save.

Dittmer wasn’t as fortunate a minute later when Rocky Copisky gained control behind the Moorhead net, centered to the crease and Jake Leitner swatted it past the goalie for the tying goal.

Neither team scored again in regulation and the teams headed for overtime tied 1-1.

The extra session did not last long, however, as Skjefte notched the game winner after only 41 seconds of overtime.

The win was Moorhead’s second in three outings while Bemidji dropped to 1-2.

Moorhead 2, Bemidji 1, OT

Moorhead 0 1 0 1 - 2

Bemidji 0 0 1 0 - 1

First period - No scoring

Second period - 1, Moor, Herdt (Mehnke, Borgen) 9:00

Third period - 2, Bem, J.Leitner (Copiskey, Carlson) 12:34

Overtime - 3, Moor, Skjefte (Herdt, Gilmour) 0:41

Shots - Moorhead 6-11-10-2-30; Bemidji 8-7-13-1-29

Saves - Dittmer (Moor) 28-29; Tharaldson (Bemidji) 28-20

Penalties/minutes: Moorhead 5/13; Bemidji 3-6

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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