Luke Leonard’s goal with six seconds remaining in the first overtime period ended #7 Bemidji’s season in heartbreak, as #2 Moorhead survived the Lumberjacks’ upset bid for a 3-2 victory in a Section 8AA quarterfinal on Tuesday at the Moorhead Sports Center.
Back at the site of a 3-2 loss a month prior during the regular season, Bemidji had the game’s first big chance when Ethan Maish was shut down by Moorhead goaltender Will Kunka. At the other end, Tanner Rebischke was forced into action to cover a loose puck outside the Bemidji net.
Ian Ness was the scorer of the game’s opening goal at 5:41 of the first period after jamming in a loose puck at the side of Rebischke’s goal.
The Lumberjacks got their answer in the final minute of the opening period when Hunter Marcotte got free in the low slot before beating Kunka to tie the game at intermission.
Bemidji created another good look in the second period when Maish and Marcotte were able to spring a 2-on-1 rush, but Maish’s pass ventured too far ahead of his fellow forward.
The Spuds quickly broke down ice to set up Ness once again for a one-timer in the slot that restored the lead 10:37 into the second period.
Rebischke found both shot activity and crowds of players increasing as the second period progressed, forcing him and Bemidji’s defensive unit to scramble into action to stay within a goal.
Moorhead’s pressure ramped up again early in the third period, as the Spuds hit the post during one flurry before forcing more desperate defensive action from the Lumberjacks.
A Moorhead penalty for interference presented Bemidji with a chance to draw level, which Wyatt Mattfield took at 10:15 of the third on a pinpoint pass by Connor Savard.
Maish fashioned another golden chance later in the third period, but once again could not beat Kunka from the slot as the game remained deadlocked heading into overtime.
Rebischke was again called into action in the early minutes of the overtime period, picking up another denial to extend the proceedings.
With mere seconds remaining in the first overtime, one last attack from Moorhead produced a point shot from Luke Leonard that bounced around in traffic in front of Rebischke before slipping through to give the Spuds a game-winning goal.
Rebischke totaled 47 saves in the game, with Moorhead outshooting the Lumberjacks 50-30 on their way to ousting Bemidji in the quarterfinals for a second consecutive season.
Bemidji finishes the year 8-11 overall, graduating 13 seniors.