Bemidji boys hockey snapped an 11-game losing skid against Brainerd with an impressive 5-2 victory on the road at the Essentia Health Sports Center on Thursday evening.
The Lumberjacks built a 3-0 advantage before scoring the final two goals of the game to sign off on a first victory against the rival Warriors since Nov. 2016.
After a strong opening stretch of puck possession and creating chances, Bemidji was rewarded with the game’s opening goal on a wrister from Lincoln Huerd just minutes into the first period.
Just over three minutes later, Hunter Marcotte was able to prod a loose puck under Warriors goaltender Jed Klang after shots from Tate Hammitt and Connor Savard, opening up a two goal lead for the visitors.
Brainerd was forced to use a timeout midway through the first period in hopes of snapping out of a lethargic open to the game, but Bemidji was on the power play just moments after the pause. The best chance went to the Warriors though, who were denied on a shorthanded chance thanks to a save from Tanner Rebischke.
The Lumberjacks also crucially killed off a 5-on-3 power play for Brainerd late in the first, preserving a 2-0 edge at intermission. The lead grew 40 seconds into the second period, with Marcotte tallying a tip-in on another Bemidji power play.
Brainerd pulled back within a goal thanks to two quick, close-range goals midway through the first from John Finnegan.
Undeterred, the Lumberjacks hit on a 2-on-1 rush up ice when Wylee Gladen was able to lift a pass up ice to defenseman Nate Mannausau, who beat Klang on a backhand to put Bemidji up 4-2.
The Lumberjacks hoped to add one more before intermission, but Wyatt Mattfield rang the crossbar as the clock hit zero with the puck judged not to have crossed the line.
Mattfield still had the last laugh in the end, sending a pass across the slot in the third period that bounced around and in past Klang to lift Bemidji to a 5-2 advantage that it would never relinquish.
Rebischke notched 24 saves, with the Jacks outshooting Brainerd 32-26 in the game.
The Lumberjacks are now 5-10 and will host Sauk Rapids-Rice for Senior Day on Saturday at 2pm. Pregame will be at 1:45 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and online at the “Listen Live” tab at kbunsportsradio.com.