Eighth graders Bailey Rupp and Mali McLean supplied the goals and Ava Myhre stepped up with a short-notice 28-save performance to lift Bemidji girls hockey to a 3-2 win over Grand Rapids/Greenway on Thursday at the Bemidji Community Arena.
The Lumberjacks impressively downed the Lightning 4-2 on the road in early November to signal their elevated standard of play for the new season, and quickly captured the lead after just a few seconds of play. Rupp continued her recent goalscoring exploits by finishing a feed from Megan Berg to put Bemidji up 1-0.
Rupp turned provider on the second tally at 13:21 of the first when she won a faceoff that turned into a point shot from McLean that doubled Bemidji’s advantage.
The Lumberjacks continued to pile pressure on in the second period, forcing GRG’s Riley Toivonen into a series of stops.
Rupp struck again just over five minutes into the second on another assist from Berg to give the Jacks an important third marker.
Grand Rapids/Greenway infused life into its comeback hopes with less than two minutes left in the second on a goal from Kalle Reed that ended a series of chances around Myhre.
Despite keeping GRG top scorer Mercury Bischoff at bay in the first two periods, the Lumberjacks could not contain her at 7:25 of the third when she struck to pull the visitors within one.
The Lumberjacks had to fight off five power play chances for the Lightning, but kept them off the scoresheet on each one and nearly converted a shorthanded look when Rupp created another opportunity.
Myhre learned she would be starting late in the afternoon after Payton Weidemann was forced to miss the game due to illness. The sophomore preserved the lead down the stretch with a series of saves, including denying Bischoff on a big chance.
The Jacks were edged 30-29 in shots on their way to the victory, which improves their record to 12-5-3.
Bemidji will next host Alexandria on Bemidji Hockey Fights Cancer day this Saturday at 1pm at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Mike Johnson: