BOYS HOCKEY: Lumberjacks outlast St. Cloud as 4-2 winners
BEMIDJI -- Even though its lead was sliced in half within the blink of an eye, the Bemidji High School boys hockey team showcased a composed third period to ride out a 4-2 win over St. Cloud at the Bemidji Community Arena on Thursday.
“We’ve given up two quick goals like that throughout the year, and it’s really hurt us,” BHS head coach Eric Monsrud said of a second-period swing. “Our kids answered in the third period. We didn’t let anything else past us.”
The Lumberjacks (5-8) first built up a lead to fall back on. Hunter Olson and Zak Justice teamed up to provide the early lead for Bemidji at the 5:45 mark of the first period. Olson forced a St. Cloud turnover near center ice and traded passes with Justice on a shorthanded 2-on-0 breakaway, which led to Olson finishing into a wide open net.
Andrew Dondelinger doubled the advantage exactly 10 minutes later, as he waited at the post for Wyatt Halvorson to deliver a centering pass from behind the net, and Dondelinger buried it from the doorstep for a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes into the middle frame, Olson converted on another breakaway when he beat St. Cloud tender Soren Falloon with the backhand to put the Jacks up 3-0 unassisted. Bjorn Jorgenson then went top-shelf for a power-play goal at the 6:35 mark, giving Bemidji plenty of breathing room at 4-0.
“It was really important for us, just in the standpoint that we have trouble scoring goals,” Monsrud said of capitalizing on quality chances. “(That) really gave us some momentum and made us play with a little bit of energy. … We were being a little bit more responsible defensively, which gave us those opportunities up front.”
In a flash, though, St. Cloud (3-6-2) bolted back into the game. A minute after the Jorgenson goal, Sam Oster intercepted a pass deep in the Bemidji zone, and his shot deflected off Johanns and into the net. Blake Keller added another with a power-play slap shot that connected a minute and a half later, cutting the difference in half at 4-2.
“We just stopped moving the puck,” Monsrud said. “We started to play outside of our skillset, and it cost us.”
The Lumberjacks played on the back of their heels for much of the remainder of the period, but a pair of slick saves from Johanns turned aside promising St. Cloud looks and kept the Bemidji lead in tact.
And then in the third, BHS regained its composure to finish on a high note. The scoreless frame didn’t provide many scoring windows for either side, but the Jacks denied any St. Cloud comeback with a collective poise that rang in the 4-2 final.
“Andrew Johanns stepped up,” Monsrud said. “It was really a great team effort, for sure.”
Johanns tallied 30 saves on 32 shots, while Falloon stopped 15 of 19 shots on the other end.
Bemidji will be back on the ice at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, for a home matchup against Crookston at the BCA.
Bemidji 4, St. Cloud 2
SC 0 2 0 -- 2
BHS 2 2 0 -- 4
First period -- 1, BHS, Olson (Justice), 5:45, SH; 2, BHS, Dondelinger (Halvorson), 15:45.
Second period -- 3, BHS, Olson (unassisted), 3:06; 4, BHS, Jorgenson (Dondelinger), 6:35, PP; 5, SC, Oster (unassisted), 7:49; 6; SC, Keller (Doucette), 9:20, PP.
Third period -- No scoring.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BHS, Johanns (30-32); SC, Falloon (15-19).