By Micah Friez
BEMIDJI, Minn. — On a night where 10 of its penalties marred the scoresheet, goals were hard to come by for the Bemidji High School boys hockey team in a physical, 4-1 loss to Grand Rapids at the Bemidji Community Arena on Tuesday night.
“I expected us to play hockey, and I did not see that happen,” BHS head coach Eric Monsrud said.
The Lumberjacks succumbed to the physicality of the Thunderhawks (8-15) for much of the night, which allowed Grand Rapids to control tempo and possession en route to the blowout.
The Thunderhawks first cashed in at the 4:52 mark of the first period, when Brandon Goehring scored the opening goal off assists from Hunter Bischoff and Kobie Koenig.
The rivalry showed itself late in the first, as Bemidji put a shot on goal after the whistle that sparked a fight near the Grand Rapids bench. Five total penalties were assessed for the scuffle, which came in the middle of a nine-penalty streak that bridged the first and second goals.
Wyatt Holcomb doubled the Thunderhawk lead late in the second period, taking advantage of a 2-on-1 rush and roped a top-shelf wrister that beat BHS goalie Broc Waldhausen at the 12:35 mark. Cooper Brodzinski earned the assist on the goal.
Then in the third, Jack Peart intercepted a pass at the blue line, setting up John Bonner for a goal at the 4:45 mark.
Grand Rapids still wasn’t done, as Maccrea Murphy put the game on ice at the 14:03 mark by banging in a bouncing puck on the power play for a 4-0 lead. Holcomb and Brodzinski tallied assists on the goal.
BHS added a late score — a smooth Zak Justice goal after Wyatt Halvorson dropped off a pass in front of the net — but it was too little, too late in the three-goal thumping.
In net, Waldhausen stopped 20 of 24 shots he faced, while Carter Clafton had 19 saves on 20 chances for Grand Rapids.
“Weak play — being weak — that was my issue,” Monsrud said. “… The phone rings on our team, but nobody wants to answer it. So it just keeps ringing.”
Tuesday’s loss marks the fourth loss in a row for the Jacks — who haven’t won since Hockey Day Minnesota on the outdoor rink — and it matches their longest skid of the season. They dropped to 7-13-1 on the season.
“Right now, the pulse of the team is kind of flat-lined,” Monsrud said. “Varsity hockey demands a different level of play, and (that’s) something that we can’t consistently bring to the table on a daily basis.”
Bemidji will return to action at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, to host Hermantown at the BCA.
Grand Rapids 4, Bemidji 1
GR 1 1 2 — 4
BHS 0 0 1 — 1
First period — 1, GR, Goehring (Bischoff, Koenig), 4:52.
Second period — 2, GR, Holcomb (Brodzinski), 12:35.
Third period — 3, GR, Bonner (Peart), 4:45; 4, GR, Murphy (Holcomb, Brodzinski), 14:03; 5, BHS, Justice (Halvorson, McNamara) 15:02.
Goalies (saves-shots) — BHS, Waldhausen (20-24); GR, Clafton (19-20).