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BOYS HOCKEY: Lumberjacks send up seniors with dominant win over Crookston

The Bemidji High School boys hockey team came out attacking Tuesday night against Crookston at the Bemidji Community Arena. Vicious checks greeted Pirates players soon after puck drop.

011522.S.BP.BHSBHKY Wyatt Mattfield.jpg
Bemidji junior Wyatt Mattfield (9) takes control of the puck during the first period against Crookston on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – The Bemidji High School boys hockey team came out attacking Tuesday night against Crookston at the Bemidji Community Arena. Vicious checks greeted Pirates players soon after puck drop.

But Crookston was game, physically responding in kind. Their biggest problem was stopping the Lumberjacks’ scoring attack.

Despite scoring first, the Pirates failed to match Bemidji’s surge. BHS netted two goals in the first period, two in the second and two in the third to earn a 6-1 win on Senior Night.

“It's just about playing hockey and having fun,” head coach Pete Stahnke said. “I think Senior Night had a little bit to do with it. I think they were pretty excited.”

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Bemidji senior Cade Voge (12) celebrates after scoring in the first period against Crookston on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji (6-7-1) started six seniors, including goaltender Jackson Hill. Senior Brayden Puppe replaced Hill in the second period, ensuring that nearly every senior had an opportunity to take the ice on the day that honored them.

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The one who didn’t, forward Wylee Gladen, missed the game with a concussion. It was a disappointing twist, as Gladen is one of the Lumberjacks’ captains. Stahnke describes him as the reason the locker room camaraderie is so good this year, and he didn’t lose perspective despite staying off the ice.

“It's really special,” Gladen said. “Getting to play with your buddies every day, going to practice for each other. We all love each other very much.”

That love extends especially to his fellow seniors. Gladen, suited up in formal wear instead of hockey attire, stepped onto the ice after the game and took a picture with his fellow fourth-years to commemorate the occasion.

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Bemidji senior Colten Pickett (18) chases the puck during the first period against Crookston on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“Getting the start, that's kind of a big deal (for them),” Gladen said. “(And the photo) is something we’ll remember forever.”

Yet in order to make the celebration truly worthwhile, the Lumberjacks first had to take care of business. Kadin Edwards found plunder early for Crookston (1-10-1), scoring on the power play at 2:15 in the first period to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

From there, though, the Jacks took over. Senior defenseman Cade Voge equalized at 10:47, with Ashton Niemi backing it up at 13:10 to give BHS the 2-1 edge.

The Lumberjacks picked right back up after the intermission, with Wyatt Mattfield scoring at 0:32 in the second to double the deficit. Nick Yavarow put Crookston in a three-goal hole with a shorthanded score at 6:14.

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Bemidji junior Nick Yavarow (5) celebrates after scoring in the second period against Crookston on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Peyton Neadeau, primarily a junior varsity player, received some time with the top squad and took advantage, scoring at 3:39 in the third period to make it 5-1. Yavarow then added his second, the capper, at 10:30.

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Hill finished with three saves, while Puppe backed him up with three stops of his own. Crookston’s Jaren Bailey stopped 42 shots, but ultimately, the Pirates had to walk the plank.

“I was satisfied,” Stahnke said. “I wish we could have put the puck in a little more. They had a really good goaltender. But I thought we moved the puck well. We skated well, we played hard, had fun, and that's what it's about.”

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Bemidji freshman Noah Mannausau (20) shoots the puck during the second period against Crookston on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Winning is fun, but the Jacks have bigger goals – they’re hoping to make some noise in section play. To do that, they’ll lean on leadership from their seniors – and await Gladen’s return to bolster their lineup.

“I think we have the guys, the leaders in this group,” Gladen said. “We can make a big push in the playoffs.”

Bemidji returns to the ice to face Brainerd at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13, in Brainerd.

Bemidji 6, Crookston 1

CRK 1 0 0 -- 1

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BHS 2 2 2 -- 6

First period -- 1, CRK GOAL, Edwards (Larson, Kelly), 2:15, PP; 2, BHS GOAL, Voge (Malkowski, Niemi), 10:47; 3, BHS GOAL, Niemi (Knutson, Malkowski), 13:10.

Second period -- 4, BHS GOAL, Mattfield (Rupp), 0:32, PP; 5, BHS GOAL, Yavarow (Bjornerud), 6:14, SH.

Third period -- 6, BHS GOAL, P. Neadeau (Rupp, Fankhanel), 3:39; 7, BHS GOAL, Yavarow (Lalli), 10:30.

Saves -- Hill (BHS) 3; Puppe (BHS) 3; Bailey (CRK) 42.

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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