HIGHLIGHTS: Bemidji Rally Comes Up A Goal Short In Elk River

A four-goal deficit early in the second period was nearly erased by Bemidji before Elk River/Zimmerman held on to defeat the Lumberjacks 4-3 in a Section 8AA boys hockey game on Tuesday in Elk River.

The hosts opened the scoring on a goal by forward Blaise Schutt from the left circle with just 85 seconds gone in the game.

Bemidji fought off a 5-on-3 power play and another man advantage later in the first period to stay in touching distance on the scoreboard despite a heavy shots advantage for the Elks. But the pressure eventually paid off for a 2-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the period when Braden Hansberger chased down a loose puck at the side of the net.

Elk River’s first period dominance and power play chances resulted in a 16-2 shot disparity, but the Lumberjacks opened the second period with a solid flurry of chances. Their promising start was dashed by penalties taken less than 30 seconds apart that set up a pair of power play goals–Marcus Fritel at 5-on-3 and Andrew Foss just under a minute and a half later.

The Bemidji comeback effort started just over six minutes into the second with a two pieces of gritty play–a driving skate to gain the zone by Cade Voge, then a wrist shot from Ashton Niemi under defensive pressure.

With the game opening up, goaltender Jackson Hill was called on to make a sprawling stop to deny an Elk River breakaway during a line change.

Hill’s saves and ramped up offensive pressure set the Lumberjacks up to draw closer, which they did through a goal from the returning Wylee Gladen with just under four minutes left in the second period.

The Lumberjacks kept up the pressure in the early minutes of the third, though Hill still needed to be sharp on the other end to keep the deficit at just a pair of goals.

Penalties had been called heavily against the Lumberjacks during the first half of the game, as a total of five minors went against Bemidji before Elk River had the final four of the night go against them. A penalty on the Elks with under six minutes to play set up Gladen for a one-time bomb to bring Bemidji within 4-3 just four seconds into the man advantage.

Another power play and a late 6-on-5 push with Hill at the bench both failed to bring a tying goal for Bemidji, which finished with 24 shots to the 43 of the Elks. Hill tallied 39 saves in goal, while Josef Lalli and Colten Pickett each picked up two assists for their roles in Gladen’s goals.

Bemidji (6-10-1) will host Cloquet-Esko-Carlton on Friday at 7:15pm.

Postgame interview with Bemidji assistant coach Vinny Huerd: