Moorhead plays the aggressor in blanking Bemidji boys

Bemidji High School juniors Wyatt Halvorson (19) and Chase Fillipi (24) battle with Moorhead for the puck on Friday at the Bemidji Community Arena. Jillian Gandsey / The Rink Live

By Micah Friez

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The floodgates opened in a flash on the Bemidji High School boys hockey team on Friday.

After the first intermission, the Lumberjacks’ scoreless tie with Moorhead slipped into a 3-0 deficit in less than half a period, which became a 3-0 loss at the Bemidji Community Arena.

“There’s no secrets to (Moorhead’s) game. They have a good club,” Bemidji head coach Eric Monsrud said. “They’re very skilled, they’re very strong. That was kind of the difference tonight: the strength piece that they bring to the game. They out-muscled us tonight.”

A physical first period was played to a draw, but the Spuds (13-6-1) acted as the aggressor for most of it with an 11-5 shot advantage.

Moorhead then cashed in at the start of the second period. Just 36 seconds in, Nolan Westra lit the lamp on the Lumberjacks (7-12-1) for a 1-0 edge. Westra then added another goal at the 2:44 mark of the frame when he snuck a shot past BHS goalie Broc Waldhausen during a 5-on-3 power play.

The Spuds opened it up midway through the period. During a rush on the net, Caden Triggs went from the forehand to the backhand and flipped in a beauty near the crease, which suddenly made for a 3-0 game within an eight-minute span.

“They move the puck so quick, they move their feet and they’re never standing still,” Monsrud said. “We just have to be smarter defensively. We over-pursued, we got ourselves into bad positions and we allowed them to penetrate our defense because of it. Some of it was because we’re not strong enough, and some of it was because we just weren’t smart enough.”

Moorhead never surrendered control for the remainder of the night. Bemidji struggled to gain an offensive flow, which resulted in the three-goal deficit by the second intermission.

And whenever the Lumberjacks had a window to break through, Spuds goalie Hudson Hodges snuffed it out.

Andrew Dondelinger had a pair of open shots in the third period with only Hodges to beat, but Dondelinger was turned away empty handed after Hodges kept the Jacks off the scoreboard with a pair of smooth saves.

“It’s one of the toughest things you can do in sports, battle from behind like that,” Monsrud said. “But this group, there’s zero quit. They don’t quit, and that’s one thing I’m proud about them. We might have some (mental lapses) out there where we make mistakes and we get down, but there’s zero quit in these kids. They will battle and battle and battle. That’s what we love about them.”

Waldhausen finished with 31 saves on 34 shots, while Hodges stopped all 16 Bemidji shots he faced.

The Lumberjacks will be back at the BCA at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, for a matchup against Grand Rapids.

Lumberjack senior Casey McNamara (3) dives to stop the puck in Friday’s game against Moorhead at the Bemidji Community Arena. Jillian Gandsey / The Rink Live

Moorhead 3, Bemidji 0

MHS 0 3 0 — 3

BHS 0 0 0 — 0

First period — No scoring.

Second period — 1, MHS, Westra (Henkemeyer-Howe), 0:36; 2, MHS, Westra (Gramer, Henkemeyer-Howe), 2:44; 3, MHS, Triggs (Overbo, Moilanen), 8:22.

Third period — No scoring.

Goalies (saves-shots): BHS, Waldhausen (31-34); MHS, Hodges (16-16).

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