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BOYS HOCKEY: Jacks hang with No. 1 Hawks in 5-2 loss

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School boys hockey team didn't get pushed around Saturday afternoon but ultimately fell 5-2 to top-ranked Hermantown at Bemidji Community Arena.

Bemidji High School Hockey web art

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School boys hockey team didn’t get pushed around Saturday afternoon but ultimately fell 5-2 to top-ranked Hermantown at Bemidji Community Arena.

“I thought it was a good game,” said BHS head coach Eric Monsrud. “We played hard. These kids don’t quit.”

The Hawks (18-3-1), ranked No. 1 in Class A, have represented Section 7A at the state tournament every year for the last nine seasons and are vying for their 10th straight section title this year.

“It was nice to see us keep battling throughout the whole game, even though it was tough sledding,” Monsrud said. “But in the end, our kids didn’t quit.”

Brady Baker accounted for both Hermantown goals in the first period. The senior flipped a puck past goalie Broc Waldhausen on the power play for the first goal. He netted his second on a partial breakaway with 5:54 to play in the opening frame, making it 2-0 heading to the middle period.

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The Lumberjacks put together a strong second period, outshooting the Hawks 15-10 in the frame, but still found themselves trailing 4-1 entering the third.

Bemidji kept the visitors at bay for most of the first eight minutes of the second until Darian Gotz fired a shot through traffic to pick up a shorthanded goal.

Hermantown extended its lead to 4-0 when Elliott Peterson poked the puck out of a scrum in front of the crease with 5:09 to play in the period.

The second-period onslaught of shots finally produced a goal for the Jacks with 4:16 to play. Ethan Maish banked in a shot from a tough angle off the goalie’s leg pad and into the back of the net to put Bemidji on the board.

“We were just shooting the puck more,” Monsrud said. “We were just being more opportunistic and moving our feet. … Those are things that when you play against teams that are top-ranked in the state, you have to skate and you have to play with some physicality. I felt like we did that for the most part today.”

A power-play goal early in the third allowed the Jacks to cut the deficit in half. Hunter Olson wrangled a shot from the point past Cole Manahan at the 1:58 mark early in a five-minute advantage to bring the score to 4-2.

The Lumberjacks couldn’t strike again on the power play, but kept Hermantown from scoring another even-strength goal. Gotz scored on an empty net in the final minute to bring the game to its final score.

Bemidji has one more matchup with a Section 8AA opponent before the regular season concludes next week. The Jacks will travel to Roseau for a 6 p.m. puck drop Monday, Feb. 11, before hosting Thief River Falls in the season finale Thursday, Feb. 14.

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“This is going to be the biggest game for us all year long,” Monsrud said of the Roseau contest. “It’s our last section game, and we have to go in there prepared, ready to go. We’re going to play hard and maybe surprise some people here.”

Section 8AA playoff seedings will be announced Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Hermantown 5, Bemidji 2

HER 2 2 1 -- 5

BHS 0 1 1 -- 2

First period -- 1, HER, Baker (Lucia), 1:45, PP; 2, HER, Baker (unassisted), 11:06.

Second period -- 3, HER, Gotz (unassisted), 7:55, SH; 4, HER, Peterson (unassisted), 11:41; 5, BHS, Maish (unassisted), 12:44.

Third period -- 6, BHS, Olson (Hammitt), 1:58, PP; 7, HER, Gotz (unassisted), 16:23, EN.

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Goalies (saves-shots) -- BHS, Waldhausen (31-35); HER, Manahan (28-30).

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at sports@bemidjipioneer.com.
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