#8 Bemidji scored the opening goal of the game and took a 1-1 score into the final four minutes of the game before #1 Moorhead pulled ahead late for a 3-1 victory in a Section 8AA boys hockey quarterfinal at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday evening.
The result came in spite of a tremendous effort from the Lumberjacks, who had lost twice to Moorhead during the regular season–including a 9-0 loss at the very same arena just three weeks prior.
Defending their Section 8AA title from the year before, Moorhead piled the pressure on in the first period with a 15-2 advantage in shots. But Bemidji’s junior goaltender Tanner Rebischke stymied the Spuds in the first with a series of strong stops.
In addition to support from various pokes and blocks from the skaters in front of him, Rebischke was also aided by a miss off the crossbar in the opening four minutes from the Spuds, as the game stayed scoreless going into the second period.
The Jacks seized their chance to create off a rush at 6:26 of the second. After Gage Mostad lost the puck coming through the slot, Wylee Gladen took over behind the net and wrapped the puck around into the pad of Moorhead goaltender Hudson Hodges. Gladen was able to prod underneath the pad and push Bemidji into a stunning lead.
Bemidji had appeared to take a 2-0 lead just a few minutes later on a toe-drag from Tate Hammitt through traffic, but Grant Declusin came across Hodges and was judged to have interfered with the goaltender.
Rebischke and the Lumberjacks’ defensive zone coverage had to dig in to maintain the lead, with the net minder coming up with another series of tremendous saves in tight.
All of the pressure eventually resulted in a tying goal from Moorhead with under three minutes left in the third. After a strong rush from Carter Johnson was denied by Rebischke, the loose puck was stuffed in by Caden Triggs to knot the game at 1 at 14:14.
Undeterred, the Jacks continued to create some chances on breakouts in the third period, coming close on a few occasions during an even start to the period. Declusin had a big opportunity on a break off the wing midway through the period, but was shut down by Hodges to keep it 1-1.
Moorhead began to build more chances late in the game, forcing some acrobatics from Rebischke and more blocks in front of him.
Following a Bemidji timeout with less than four minutes to play in regulation, the Spuds captured an offensive zone faceoff to set the stage for the eventual game-winner. Johnson redirected a shot from Macoy Gregoire at the point to beat Rebischke under the pad.
The goal came with 3:15 remaining and forced Bemidji into desperation mode. After pulling Rebischke for an extra attacker with two minutes to play, the Jacks’ upset bid was ended by Lukas Feir on an empty-net goal from his own blue line to make it 3-1.
The loss did not take away from an incredible defensive effort from the Jacks and Rebischke, who stopped 46 of 48 shots in the game. Bemidji was outshot 49-16, as Hodges stopped 15 shots on the other end.
Bemidji’s season concludes with a 3-22-1 record and a quarterfinal exit in the Section 8AA playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Postgame interview with Bemidji assistant coach Bazil Zuehlke: