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Boys hockey: Bemidji opens 2014 with 2-0 win over Sartell

Bemidji forward Rocky Copiskey beat Sartell goalie Elliott Brookins and gave the Jacks a 1-0 lead Saturday afternoon at the Bemidji Community Arena. BHS went on to a 2-0 victory. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 4
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Bemidji's Parker Lucas tries to get a shot off during the first period of hockey actions against Sartell on Saturday afternoon. (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 4
Bemidji senior Sam Carlson fights for the puck against Sartell's Cullen Chisholm on Saturday afternoon. (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer)4 / 4

BEMIDJI — When a team doesn’t score on a 5-minute power play advantage, the end result usually is not favorable.

Saturday at the Bemidji Community Arena, however, the Bemidji boys hockey team found a way to defeat Sartell 2-0 despite failing to find the net during seven minutes of continuous power play that started in the second period and extended into the third.

Grant Tharaldson led the charge with a 19-save performance, an effort that was rewarded with his first varsity shutout.

Rocky Copiskey scored early in the middle stanza to give the Lumberjacks a 1-0 cushion and Brett Hartje’s open-net goal in the final seconds secured the victory.

In between the goals, however, both teams manufactured numerous scoring opportunities but Tharaldson and his Sabre counterpart, Elliot Brookins, continually thwarted the offenses.

“It was good for us to have to go through the situation of being up 1-0 at the end,” said BHS coach Wade Chiodo. “We had to work all the way to the end and that was good for us.

“But we do have to find a way to bury the puck when we have the chance.”

The Lumberjacks tested Brookins 35 times but managed only one goal against the senior netminder. And they had numerous opportunities to put more pucks onto the net, opting instead to pass around the defense looking for a better scoring lane.

The home team dominated the action in the first period and outshot Sartell 14-5. The stanza ended 0-0, however, as both goalies rose to the challenges.

At the 1:14 mark of the second period Bemidji’s attack finally paid dividends as Copiskey worked to the front of the net, snared a centering pass from Jake Leitner and beat Brookins from close range.

A few minutes later the Sabres had four consecutive minutes on the power play as the Lumberjacks were whistled for a trip at the 4:02 mark and for having too many men on the ice as that penalty expired.

Sartell managed five shots on Tharaldson during the man-advantage situation but the goalie held firm.

With 6:28 to play in the stanza the Lumberjacks began their seven-minute stint on the power play as the Sabres were flagged for interference at 10:32 and, when that penalty expired, Braden Doucette was called for a 5-minute boarding major.

BHS kept the puck in its offensive zone for much of the seven minutes but managed only five shots on net and no goals.

“Our power play was a little stagnant,” Chiodo said. “We were too passive. The name of the game on the power play is to create 2-on-1 situations, move the puck, move your feet and get shots on net. But we didn’t do that very well.”

Each team had a brief power play in the third period and the two penalties overlapped so the majority of the stanza was played 5-on-5.

“I thought that, 5-on-5, we were very effective,” Chiodo said. “At this time of the year you have to crank it up and be playing well in all three zones. We did that on Saturday all the way to the end.”

The victory wasn’t assured until Josh Lusby fed Hartje between the circles and Hartje zipped a wrister into the empty net just before the buzzer sounded.

“We found a way to finish the game off and get the ‘W’,” Chiodo said. “This was a good way to start 2014.”

Bemidji returns to action on Tuesday when it heads to Crookston. The next home game will be Jan. 11 against Roseau.

Bemidji 2, Sartell 0

Sartell 0 0 0 - 0

Bemidji 0 1 1 - 2

First period - No scoring

Second period - 1, Bem, Copiskey (J.Leitner, Fitzgerald) 1:14

Third period - 2, Bem, B.Hartje (Lusby) 16:59 ON

Shots - Sartell 5-7-7-19; Bemidji 14-12-10-36

Saves - Brookins (Sar) 34-35; Tharaldson (Bem) 19-19

Penalties/minutes - Sartell 4/11; Bemidji 4/8

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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