Bailey Olson’s three-goal performance was the catalyst as defending Section 6A champion Willmar topped Bemidji girls hockey 5-2 on Thursday evening at the Willmar Civic Center.
The senior forward staked the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead at first intermission with a pair of wristers from close range.
Willmar further enhanced its lead to 3-0 just 35 seconds into the second period, with Nina Dawson tallying a goal off a rebounded save from Bemidji’s Nettie Kimble at close range.
The Lumberjacks answered with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 5:18 of the second, as 8th grader Samantha Nistler sniped her first varsity goal on helpers from Lexi Leitner and Bella Webb.
Olson stretched the lead back to three halfway through the third period, wheeling in from behind the net to beat Kimble under the pads.
Despite conceding the goal, Bemidji again responded with a goal. Webb struck just over a minute later at 8:39 of the third with her first goal in two years with assists from both Samantha and Madyson Nistler.
After a Bemidji power play was shut down moments after Webb’s goal, Willmar secured the victory with one more tally from Sophia Quinn in the third period.
Willmar outshot Bemidji 50-13, as Kimble piled up another large save total with 45 stops in goal for the Lumberjacks.
Bemidji is now 0-3 overall, and will return home to play St. Cloud on Tuesday at 7:15pm. Pregame will be at 7 on KBUN Plus FM 100.1/AM 1450 and KBUN2 at kbunsportsradio.com.