Trailing 1-0 with just over 10 minutes gone in the second period, Bemidji girls hockey unleashed a barrage of six unanswered goals to run out to a 6-2 victory at East Grand Forks on Thursday night.
The matchup was the first between the teams since they opened their respective seasons with a dominant 8-1 win for the Lumberjacks on Nov. 12. Unlike the previous game, the Green Wave came out with the early pressure and nearly got the opening goal with a redirected shot that glanced off the crossbar of Ava Myhre’s net.
The Jacks’ slow start worsened due to a pair of penalties in the opening period, and the second set the stage for East Grand Forks to open the scoring. Aggressive positioning at center ice while playing shorthanded left Bemidji exposed when Blake Schultz used a turnover to skate in for a breakaway goal.
Bemidji responded well to going behind, creating a pair of one-on-one opportunities that EGF netminder Britlyn Rasmussen was able to turn aside. Millie Knott and Sammy Nistler later combined on another threatening opportunity that Rasmussen denied.
The second period continued much as the first had, with the Green Wave continuing to be a fraction quicker all over the ice and Rasmussen stifling the Jacks’ chances. Bailey Rupp used a quick move in the slot to fire a shot during a power play that was once again shut down.
The Lumberjacks finally found a tying goal at 11:17 of the second with a quick move involving a trio of seniors. Kiera Nelson was able to release Elizabeth Oster down the right wing for a breakout, and her pass found Bella Webb in the slot for a wrist shot that was shelved over Rasmussen’s shoulder.
Just 42 seconds passed after the Webb equalizer before the Jacks had the lead for good on a fast reaction from Megan Berg to backhand a loose puck into the roof of the net from an acute angle along the goal line.
The 2-1 scoreline held until just over two and a half minutes into the third period when the Lumberjacks kicked off what would prove to be a decisive spree of scoring. Knott unloaded a drive from the high slot that Rasmussen was able to knock away, but Naomi Johnson followed up to tally her second goal in as many games and give breathing room to the lead.
Oster replicated the rebound marker with one of her own at the 7:13 mark, depositing a doorstep opportunity created by a blast from Nelson.
Sammy Nistler made it 5-1 just shy of the 10-minute mark in the period with a crafty tip in the slot after a weaving setup by Knott.
At the other end of the ice, Myhre’s contributions were not to be forgotten after the work she had done to keep the Lumberjacks close earlier in the game. The sophomore continued to stay sharp with a shutdown of a Green Wave chance in the slot.
Bemidji’s final tally of the night was provided by Makenna Dreher at 12:30 of the third after Taylor Bjerke forced a turnover in the offensive zone that led to a turnaround wrist shot.
Schultz added one more goal for the Green Wave with just over two minutes left to complete the third period’s frenetic scoring pace.
Penalties littered the action throughout the night, with Bemidji finishing 0-for-5 on the power play and East Grand Forks ending 1-for-7. Myhre tallied 28 saves as the Jacks outshot East Grand Forks 39-30.
Nelson, Knott, and Mya Lundeen all posted a pair of assists for the Jacks, and Oster, Dreher, and Sammy Nistler all a goal and assist.
Bemidji improves to 13-7-3 ahead of its rivalry matchup and Section 8AA clash with Moorhead in the regular season’s penultimate game on Tuesday evening at 6pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Mike Johnson: