Bailey Rupp gave Bemidji girls hockey the lead after just 18 seconds, but a tying goal later in the first and stingy defense from Cloquet-Esko-Carlton was enough to end the game in a 1-1 tie on Saturday in the regular season finale at the Bemidji Community Arena.
Fresh off the news that they would be hosting in the Section 8AA playoffs for the first time since 2015, the host Lumberjacks kicked off the game in impressive fashion with Rupp’s goal from Naomi Johnson’s feed on the game’s first chance.
Bemidji continued to press for more in the first period, but a blue-line turnover in the offensive zone led to a breakaway for CEC’s Brayley Merrier to tie the game at 11:25.
Megan Berg came close to responding later in the first period, but Araya Kiminski’s glove save denied the freshman forward a good opportunity.
Chances continued to be more frequently in Bemidji’s favor during the second period, but neither team could find a way to put another shot past goaltenders Ava Myhre of Bemidji and Kiminski of Cloquet.
The third period saw Bemidji throw chance after chance toward goal that continued to stay out, including a puck that reached the crease without crossing the line and a good look from Johnson that was denied.
Overtime featured more dramatic moments–including a Bemidji shot that deflected off the CEC post in the early moments of the extra period–but neither side could find a winning goal.
Bemidji overwhelmingly outshot CEC 36-15, with Myhre stopping 14 shots in Bemidji’s net.
The Lumberjacks concluded the regular season with a record of 13-8-4 and are the #4 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs. Bemidji will have home ice for the quarterfinal round and will host #5 Brainerd/Little Falls on Tuesday evening at 7pm at the Bemidji Community Arena. Pregame is scheduled for 6:40 on The BUN Sportsradio 104.5 and Lumberjacks1 at kbunsportsradio.com.