MOORHEAD -- Goalie Tanner Rebischke and an upset-minded Bemidji High School boys hockey team nearly pulled off a shocker Tuesday night in the Section 8AA quarterfinals.
Behind the 46-save performance of their junior netminder, the No. 8 seeded Lumberjacks came within 3 minutes, 15 seconds of taking top-seeded Moorhead to overtime in its own building.
With time winding down in regulation, Carter Johnson tipped in the game-winning goal in an eventual 3-1 win for the Spuds (19-5-1), though BHS gave them a scare and proved teams can never take anything for granted in the section playoffs.
“(They played) with a lot of guts,” Jacks head coach Pete Stahnke said. “They played as a team. They went out there and they didn’t care it was Moorhead, they just went out and played. They had fun doing it.”
“It was kind of like we had nothing to lose,” assistant coach Travis Smith added. “The boys just left it all out on the ice. … We were proud of the effort that they had today.”
Moorhead entered the game 55 spots ahead of Bemidji in the Class AA QRF rankings at No. 6 in the state and had combined to outscore the Jacks 14-2 in a pair of regular-season meetings, including a 9-0 home win three weeks ago. None of that mattered to BHS Tuesday.
The Spuds outshot the visitors 15-2 through the first period, but the frame ended with goose eggs on the scoreboard after Rebischke made a number of key saves.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Stahnke said of his junior netminder. “He commanded the net. He played with a lot of confidence.”
“I think that helped the rest of the team when he made some big saves. They kind of rallied around him,” Smith said.
As the Lumberjacks continued to keep the Spuds at bay, Wylee Gladen took advantage of an opening. The sophomore stunned the home crowd by ramming a shot under the pad of goalie Hudson Hodges at 6:26 of the second period, giving the Jacks an unlikely 1-0 lead.
“Scoring that first goal gave us the momentum right away,” Smith said. “They battled hard the whole game.”
About a minute later, Tate Hammitt found the back of the net with a goal that would’ve made it 2-0, only for it to be promptly waved off due to goalie interference.
Later in the second, Rebischke made the initial save on a Spuds shot, but Caden Triggs was there for the rebound, tying the game 1-1 with less than three minutes to play.
Moorhead outshot BHS 36-8 through two periods, but Rebischke was playing like a brick wall in net to keep the Jacks in it. The Spuds peppered the opposing goalie into the third period but struggled to get anything past him.
Overtime loomed when, with 3:15 to play, Johnson tipped in a shot that snuck beneath the pad of Rebischke to give Moorhead a 2-1 lead.
BHS pulled its goalie for an extra attacker with about two minutes to play looking for an equalizer. But Lukas Feir pocketed an empty-netter with 1:31 to go as the Spuds could finally breathe easily for the first time all night.
Moorhead outshot BHS 49-17 for the game. Each team finished 0-for-1 on the power play.
Nine seniors capped their BHS careers Tuesday: Andrew Johanns, Reid Colley, Chase Mock, Gage Mostad, Wyatt Halvorson, Chase Fillipi, Ethan Mock, Dylan Perreault and Carson Kelm.
The Lumberjacks conclude the season with a record of 3-22-1. A game like Tuesday’s shows there’s plenty to build on heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
“Nobody wants to end the season this way,” Smith said. “But going forward from here, I think it gives some of our underclassmen a lot of confidence going into next year, just showing that we can play against one of the better teams in the state and take them that deep into the third period.”
Moorhead 3, Bemidji 1
BHS 0 1 0 -- 1
MHD 0 1 2 -- 3
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- 1, BHS, Gladen (Mostad), 6:26; 2, MHD, Cad. Triggs (Gess, Johnson), 14:14.
Third period -- 3, MHD, Johnson (Gregoire, Gramer), 14:45; 4, MHD, Feir (unassisted), 15:29, EN.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BHS, Rebischke (46-48); MHD, Hodges (16-17).