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GIRLS HOCKEY: Bemidji washes out East Grand Forks behind 8-goal deluge

Two Bemidji underclassmen recorded four points each. Freshman Megan Berg had the game's first goal for the Jacks, plus a second-period score and two assists. Eighth-grader Bailey Rupp scored the Lumberjacks’ second goal and assisted on Berg’s opening score, plus two others.

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The Lumberjacks celebrate after sophomore Ellie Solheim scored to put Bemidji up 8-1 during the third period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School girls hockey team beat East Grand Forks 4-1 last season at the Bemidji Community Arena.

On Saturday at the BCA, the Lumberjacks did the same thing to the Green Wave – in the first period. BHS put up four goals on EGF in the opening frame and kept adding on, pouring home an eight-goal effort to power an 8-1 season-opening victory.

Two Bemidji underclassmen – one returner and one newcomer – recorded four points each. Freshman veteran Megan Berg had the game's first goal for the Jacks – a shorthanded score 1:18 into the contest – plus a second-period score and two assists. Eighth-grade rookie Bailey Rupp scored the Lumberjacks’ second goal at 9:39 in the first period and assisted on Berg’s opening score, plus two others.

“It was amazing,” Berg said. “I felt like the first goal we got, I got this ball of energy in me that got us all pumped in our team. We were just so excited.”

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Bemidji freshman Megan Berg (2) moves the puck during the third period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

There were plenty of fireworks still to come. Though Maggey Plante of East Grand Forks (0-1) countered Berg’s early score at 6:16 in the first period, Rupp answered quickly with her goal. Elizabeth Oster picked up a score at 9:39 to extend the lead to 3-1, and Kristen McClellan capped the dazzling display with a goal at 12:36 off assists from Rupp and Berg.

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“We were cautiously optimistic coming in,” BHS head coach Mike Johnson said. “The girls had looked good in practice. They’d worked hard, they’d competed against each other. They were really ready to go for that first game. Two weeks of practices, it's the only time all year you get to practice for two weeks without a game, and they were definitely ready to come out and be unleashed.”

The scoring surge crested once again in the second period. Zoe Fayette found the back of the net at 1:25, then Sammy Nistler stretched the advantage to 6-1 at 11:02. Berg scored her second goal on the power play at 13:30 off Rupp’s third assist.

“I was glad to have my best partner Bailey with me again,” Berg said.

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Bemidji eighth-grader Bailey Rupp controls the puck during the third period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Ellie Solheim finalized the ledger with the Lumberjacks’ eighth goal at 16:45 in the third period off Berg’s second assist.

“We had so many youngsters playing in their first high school game,” Johnson said. “A lot of them are still in middle school, not even in high school, and they're playing high school hockey. There's all kinds of thoughts that go through a kid's head, and the butterflies are churning in the stomach. So it's good to go out there and settle in right away and have some success by putting some pucks in the net early, and then it became a little bit of a party atmosphere after that.”

BHS is hoping that celebratory mood carries forward into the rest of the year.

“We’re 1-0. It feels really good,” Berg said. “… Just having our heads up more and being more positive with the team (will be key). And to communicate more. I think we did excellent (with that today).”

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Bemidji eighth-grader Millie Knott (27) moves the puck toward the net during the first period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“They're feeling pretty amped up in the locker room,” Johnson added. “But they realize that there's probably stronger teams that we're going to play. They were so amped up for this game. Now we have three games next week, every other day, and it's maybe a little bit harder to get as fired up for each of those games. Hopefully they do, but we realize that. So we're going to try to steady things and keep building that confidence.”

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Payton Weidemann finished with 12 saves in net for the Jacks, while EGF’s Britlyn Rasmussen compiled 27 stops.

Bemidji will commence its three-game week against Grand Rapids/Greenway at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Grand Rapids.

Bemidji 8, East Grand Forks 1

EGF 1 0 0 -- 1

BHS 4 3 1 -- 8

First period -- 1, BHS GOAL, Berg (Rupp), 1:18, SH; 2, EGF GOAL, Plante (Schultz), 6:16; 3, BHS GOAL, Rupp (McLean), 9:39; 4, BHS GOAL, Oster (Webb, McClellan), 12:00; 5, BHS GOAL, McClellan (Rupp, Berg), 12:36.

Second period -- 6, BHS GOAL, Fayette (Webb), 1:25; 7, BHS GOAL, Nistler (Solheim, Seitz), 11:02; 8, BHS GOAL, Berg (Knott, Rupp), 13:30, PP.

Third period -- 9, BHS GOAL, Solheim (Berg), 16:45.

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Saves -- Weidemann (BHS) 12; Rasmussen (EGF) 27.

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Bemidji junior Zoe Fayette (5) moves the puck toward the net to score during the second period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji senior Bella Webb (10) reaches for the puck during the second period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Lumberjacks fight for the puck during the first period against East Grand Forks on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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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