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Lumberjacks hockey: Bemidji gives top-seeded Roseau all it can handle but drops section semifinal game

ROSEAU — For the third time this winter the Roseau boys hockey team defeated Bemidji and Saturday’s outcome in the semifinals of the Section 8-2A tournament ended the Lumberjacks’ season.

Bemidji scored the first goal Saturday but the Rams answered with the next four and advanced to Wednesday’s section championship game by downing the Jacks 4-1. Roseau will face either Moorhead or Brainerd in Wednesday’s title contest and the game will be played at a site to be determined. Brainerd and Moorhead met Saturday night in Moorhead and that winner will battle the top-seeded Rams.

Despite Saturday’s loss Lumberjacks coach Wade Chiodo had only praise for his players and their effort.

“We played hard all night and we played hard right to the end,” Chiodo, whose team was seeded fourth in the section tournament, said. “The game was much closer than a 4-1 score. It was an even game and the only difference between the two teams is that we made a couple of mistakes and Roseau capitalized.”

Nick Leitner ignited the BHS fans who made the trek to Roseau by snapping a wrister from the circle past Rams goalie Ryan Anderson only 2:22 into the action. Erik Fitzgerald and Noah Burns assisted on the goal and Bemidji seemed on its way to an upset.

Roseau, however, needed less than four minutes to even the score as the Rams attacked Bemidji goalie Gabe Heifort and Austin Hogenson eventually jammed home a rebound.

The 1-1 score stood throughout the rest of the period but 5:16 into the second stanza the home team notched the eventual game-winner.

After a Bemidji turnover at center ice the Rams entered the Jacks’ defensive zone and passes from Alex Strand and Alex Halstengard set the table for Zach Yon’s shot from between the circle. Yon found an opening in the corner of the net and Roseau was ahead to stay.

Late in the stanza the Jacks were whistled for a penalty which carried into the third period. During the shorthanded situation one of Bemidji’s players broke his stick so the Lumberjacks were essentially down 5-on-3.

And Roseau took advantage of the opportunity as Alex Strand scored from the circle 1:13 into the session.

“We played pretty well shorthanded but it’s tough to defend when you don’t have a stick,” Chiodo said. “The game of hockey is built on utilizing your stick and when you don’t have one it puts extra pressure on everybody. Without a stick, what are you supposed to do?”

Midway through the period the Rams iced the win with Strand scored his second goal courtesy of assists by Yon and Cole Bjugson.

“You aren’t going to shut that line down,” Chiodo said. “You hope to contain them but ultimately they found ways to score.”

Heifort finished with 26 saves while Roseau goalie Ryan Anderson had 27 stops.

“This year we really came together as a team in many ways,” Chiodo said. “We came a long way. In the last month of the season we hit our stride and that’s because the kids came to practice every day wanting to learn. They were excited about playing hockey and worked extremely hard. As a coach, those things are important.

“When kids really put the time in and want to get better as a hockey team, it shows,” the coach continued. “We’re a better team now than we were in December and that’s is all a coach can ask.”

Bemidji 1 0 0 - 1

Roseau 1 1 2 - 4

First period - 1, Bem, N.Leitner (Fitzgerald, Burns) 2:22. 2, Ros, Hogenson (Strand) 5:54

Second period - 3, Ros, Yon (Strand, Halstensgard) 5:15

Third period - 4, Ros, Strand (Halstensgard) 1:13 PP. 5, Ros, Strand (Yon, Bjugson) 8:17

Saves - Heifort (Bem) 7-11-8-26; Anderson (Ros) 6-12-9-27

Penalties/minutes: Bemidji 4/16; Roseau 4/16

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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