Three unanswered goals in the first period after going behind seconds into the game set the tone for Bemidji boys hockey to pick up a 5-3 victory at Class A’s sixth-ranked Alexandria on Thursday.
The start was a considerably inauspicious one for the Lumberjacks, who trailed after just 28 seconds when Josiah Gronholz fished in a loose puck that had been parried by Bemidji’s Jackson Hill on his varsity debut in net.
Undeterred, the Lumberjacks answered back less than 90 seconds later on a redirect down low from Nate Alto off Josef Lalli’s slapshot from the point.
The visitors hit for two more in quick succession with just over 10 minutes played in the game. They went in front courtesy of a scrambled tap-in provided by Cole Matetich off helpers from Alto and Connor Savard.
Just over a minute later at 11:26 of the first, Tate Hammit piloted a rush in behind the goal line before playing to Cooper Malkowski for a close-range wrister that extended the lead to 3-1.
Hill had settled in by now at the other end of the ice, showing quick hands with the glove to pick up the first several of his 32 saves.
Alexandria caught the Lumberjacks in the middle of a line change to get back within a goal at 3:57 of period two, with Grant Rebrovich supplying a wrister on his off wing to beat Hill.
After missing on two power play opportunities in the first period, Bemidji cashed in on the third later in the second for the eventual game-winner. Lalli took advantage of a window at the high slot to rip a wrist shot to the top of the net for his first goal at the varsity level.
Hill was called upon in several more big situations to maintain the lead, including on a breakaway and subsequent scramble around his net early in the third period.
Both teams did convert on breakaway opportunities that would follow, starting with Grant Declusin from Hammit’s pass up ice to stretch Bemidji’s lead to 5-2.
Gronholz responded a minute later for the Cardinals on their own rush, but that was all the closer the home team would get.
Bemidji finished with a 40-35 shot advantage in the victory, with Hammit tallying two assists and Alto and Lalli both notching a goal and an assist.
The Lumberjacks are now 2-5 overall and will next host Sartell-St. Stephen on Thursday at 7:15pm.