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GIRLS HOCKEY: Bischoff buries Bemidji with 6 scores in Jacks’ home debut

No sooner had the first 30 seconds of the game elapsed than the Lumberjacks found themselves in a 1-0 hole.

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Bemidji sophomore MaKenna Dreher (29) skates with the puck in the first period against Grand Rapids/Greenway on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School girls hockey team experienced a rude return to home ice Tuesday night. No sooner had the first 30 seconds of the game elapsed than the Lumberjacks found themselves in a 1-0 hole.

The scorer was Grand Rapids/Greenway freshman Mercury Bischoff. She’d go on to score five more, doing most of the work to bury BHS 9-0 in the Jacks’ season debut at Bemidji Community Arena.

“I was a bit surprised,” head coach Mike Johnson said. “I just felt like we were not prepared to match their intensity.”

The Lightning struck from the jump, netting four goals in the first period and adding three more in the second to generate an insurmountable advantage. By the third period, the clock was continuously running, and the Jacks (0-2) were out of time.

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Bemidji freshman Megan Berg (2) skates with the puck in the first period against Grand Rapids/Greenway on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I don't think we were quite ready,” Johnson said. “We had a game against East Grand Forks on Saturday. Things went pretty well, kind of according to plan in some ways. We ended up losing, but it was a real good battle and pretty even matchup.

“And I was expecting something maybe similar tonight, and right from the opening drop of the puck, I think they were beating us to loose pucks and winning the battles. … It was a good eye-opener for us in the long run.”

Bemidji generated 16 shots on goal against GRG goaltender Makenzie Cole, but each of them was saved. It would have been purely academic to score in this game, as Bischoff was not going to be stopped.

“She was one of the top scorers for Grand Rapids as a seventh grader,” Johnson said. “And then she's got good bloodlines. And so we knew who she was, and how she plays.

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Bemidji sophomore Kristen McClellan fights for the puck in the first period against Grand Rapids/Greenway on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I didn't really expect her to open with the goal in the first 30 seconds,” Johnson said. “But, you know, why not? So yeah, she's fun to watch.”

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Fun to watch, perhaps, but not fun to compete against. Sophomore Payton Weidemann started in net for the Lumberjacks and drew the unenviable task of slowing down Bischoff and the rest of the Lightning’s electric offense.

Weidemann stopped 24 GRG shots but conceded seven goals. Freshman Ava Myhre relieved her and recorded seven saves on nine shots faced.

The overall result was a disappointing one for BHS. But it’s still very early in the season, and much can be gained from facing a team -- and a player -- of this caliber.

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Bemidji senior Teriana Melcher (26) passes the puck in the first period against Grand Rapids/Greenway on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“We can all learn from that,” Johnson said. “Yeah, we're trying to compete against (Bischoff). But it gives us maybe a little motivation to step up our game. So if any of the girls really kind of paid attention to how she plays, and what she does and how she conducts herself, (that can help them).

“And that whole team, they didn't back off after the first goal, or the second goal, or the third goal or the eighth goal. They just kept on coming at us. And kudos to them for playing the game the right way.”

The Jacks will go back to the drawing board with one day of practice before traveling to face Thief River Falls at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18.

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Bemidji freshman Lily Larson (20) gains possession of the puck in the first period against Grand Rapids/Greenway on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Grand Rapids/Greenway 9, Bemidji 0

GRG 4 3 2 -- 9

BHS 0 0 0 -- 0

First period -- 1, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (Reed, Pierce), 0:29; 2, GRG GOAL, Reed (Bischoff), 10:56; 3, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (LeClaire, Pierce), 11:27; 4, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (Reed, DeBay), 14:00.

Second period -- 5, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (unassisted), 6:51; 6, GRG GOAL, DeBay (unassisted), 7:00; 7, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (LeClaire), 16:20.

Third period -- 8, GRG GOAL, Bischoff (Reed, LeClaire), 0:55; 9, GRG GOAL, Rajala (DeBay, Pomplun), 2:05

Saves -- Weidemann (BHS) 24; Myhre (BHS) 7; Cole (GRG) 16.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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