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GIRLS HOCKEY: Early deficit dooms Bemidji in section semifinal loss to North Wright County

Bemidji’s Allie Heifort (7) works the puck up the ice during Bemidji’s Section 8AA game against North Wright County Tuesday night in Monticello. The Lumberjacks fell 3-0 to end their season. Clay Sawatzke | Monticello Times

MONTICELLO – Bemidji couldn’t overcome North Wright County’s fast start.

The River Hawks scored two goals in the first two minutes of the Section 8AA semifinal matchup to give themselves a 2-0 cushion.

Despite a great comeback effort by the Lumberjacks, they couldn’t find the back of the net and the River Hawks advanced with a 3-0 victory Tuesday night.

“It’s hard to give up that early lead,” BHS head coach Bon Brink said. “But we were able to battle back. That seems like something we’ve done all year. Our girls didn’t give up despite those first few minutes.”

The River Hawks (22-4-1) scored with an early flurry of shots.

Rachel King scored the first goal just 39 seconds in, an unassisted tally that beat BHS goalie Leighton Rockensock.

Less than a minute later, Ann Marie Harald made it 2-0 with help from Rachel Heiber.

The Lumberjacks (11-10-5) were outshot 16-5 in the first period, but despite that early hole they didn’t back down.

The defense shored up and in the second period, the offense showed up too.

Bemidji had its best opportunity when the Hawks were whistled for two penalties in a matter of seconds. The Jacks had a 5-on-3 power play for about 90 seconds but couldn’t beat North Wright County goaltender Alex Lamere – although Allie Heifort hit a post at one point and a few other Lumberjacks had near-misses.

In the third period, the River Hawks all but ended the game with a Dani Sibley goal at 4:44.

“The girls tried their hearts out to come back, but we couldn’t catch the bounces we needed to come back,” Brink said.

The shots in the game ended up being even at 33 apiece for each team. Rockensock stopped 30 shots for the Lumberjacks and kept them in the game with some big saves.

“Leighton did an excellent job tonight,” Brink said. “Even when they had a lot of flurries, she was solid back there.

“Really, all the girls played very well tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of how the girls battled all year.”

North Wright County will take on Moorhead in Friday’s Section 8AA championship game; the winner advances to the state tournament.

Bemidji 0 0 0 - 0

North Wright County 2 0 1 - 3

First Period – 1, NWC, King (Unassisted), 0:39; 2, NWC, Harald (Heiber), 1:22.

Second Period – No Scoring.

Third Period – 3, NWC, Sibley (Sjellen, Achterkirch), 4:43.

Goalies – BHS, Rockensock (33-30); NWC, Lamere (33-33).

Penalties-Minutes – BHS, 1-2; NWC, 3-6.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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