BEMIDJI — After exploding for 11 goals in the first two periods in an 11-0 win over Warroad on Friday night, the Bemidji High School boys hockey team knew that kind of offense would be rare on Saturday afternoon — and not only because scoring 11 in a single game is not typical.
Sartell-St. Stephen’s defense — led by goaltender Matthew Partch’s 33 saves — limited the Lumberjacks to just two goals in the first two periods, but Bemidji rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period to earn the 5-4 comeback victory at the Bemidji Community Arena.
“We were able to battle adversity,” BHS head coach Wade Chiodo said. “Our guys made a few good plays in the third period and found a way to win. We were not on our A game, but we found a way. We took it as a challenge, and we got it done.”
The Lumberjacks, now 20-2-2, tied the game on goals by Rocky Copiskey and Josh Lusby before Alex Pollock scored the game-winner with 57 seconds left in regulation.
“I don’t think we had our best game today, but there’s that saying, ‘Good teams find a way to win when they’re not at their best,’” Pollock said. “I think that’s what we did tonight.”
Pollock scored his goal on a virtual breakaway after winger Brady Tatro sent a loose puck towards the Sartell net. Pollock won the race to the puck then drove to the net and eased it in past Partch’s five-hole to get the score.
The junior forward saw the puck go in then skated to the BHS student section, jumping into the boards in celebration.
“We had to relax,” Pollock said of the team’s mindset going into the third period. “We knew we had to buckle down, do the little things, get pucks on net. We crashed the net and tried to find the net.”
Although BHS went into the second intermission down just 3-2, Sartell’s Cullen Chisholm put the Sabres (14-8-0) up 4-2 just 1 minute, 55 seconds into the frame.
However, the Lumberjacks crawled back.
Copiskey cut the lead to 4-3 at the 6:31 mark, sniping one from the slot after getting a feed from Nick Leitner.
A minute later, Lusby completed the comeback, getting a juicy rebound from Tyler McNamara’s initial shot and burying it into the open net.
“The puck was bouncing our way a little bit tonight,” Chiodo said. “We found a way to capitalize.”
Jack Johnson scored Bemidji’s other goal — a power-play redirect in the first period, while Keenan Lund scored twice and Colin Johnson added a fourth for the Sabres.
Matt Fitzgerald stopped 17 shots for the Lumberjacks in net.
Bemidji has one more game remaining in the regular season; they will host Thief River Falls next Friday night in Mariucci Conference action.
Bemidji 5, Sartell-St. Stephen 4
Sartell 3 0 1 — 4
Bemidji 1 1 3 — 5
First Period — 1, S, Lund 1 (Chisholm), 7:45; 2, B, Johnson (Fitzgerald, Leitner), 14:46, PP; 3, S, Johnson (Lund, Meier) 15:31, PP; 4, S, Lund 2 (Meier, Johnson), 15:51.
Second Period — 5, B, Gregg (Leitner, Pollock), 7:11.
Third Period — 6, S, Chisholm (Roller), 1:55; 7, B, Copiskey (Leitner), 6:31; 8, B, Lusby (Unassisted), 7:41; 9, B, Pollock (Tatro) 16:03.
Shots On Goal — S, 8-7-6—21; B, 15-9-12—38. Goalies (Shots-Saves) — S, Partch (38-33); B, Fitzgerald (21-17). Penalties-Minutes — S, 4-8; B, 4-8. Power Plays-Opportunities — S, 2-for-3; B, 1-for-4.