In a game that pitted two teams with the nickname the Lumberjacks, Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton outlasted and axed Bemidji to move on to the semi-finals of the Duluth Heritage Hockey Classic. The loss was also the first for Bemidji on the season.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Cloquet, they obviously finished and found a way to win” said Bemidji head coach Wade Chiodo, “But I think we played flat the whole game. Our kids weren’t reading or reacting very well tonight.”
Despite Chiodo’s view of his team’s performance, it’s safe to say that both teams were a little flat to start the game out. Bemidji scored the first goal of the game with 13:39 left in the first period off of a Jordan Heller goal. Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton didn’t show much muster until the last few minutes of the period. Cloquet’s head coach Dave Esse was pleased with how his team reacted after going down a goal early in the game.
“I thought it was good except for one shift and one terrible goal” said coach Esse, “I’m not sure how it went in, I just know it shouldn’t have gone in. But that’s hockey. You’ve got to work hard and we came back with a goal and tied it up.”
Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton finally got a little offense going and tied the game up with 3:40 left to play in the first period from Jack McFarlane.
“I think we were a little rusty, we haven’t played in a while but I don’t think they have either so that’s not an excuse” said McFarlane, “We got going about halfway through that period and good things started to happen. It was a good way to end the period and get some momentum.”
Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton used that momentum to score the next two goals to take a 3-1 lead heading into the final period. Their first goal came just over one minute into the second period at the hands of Adam Hanson.
Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton’s second goal came with about seven and a half minutes to play in the period and with just one second left on their power play. Joey Singpiel scored the goal as Bemidji’s Kole Spencer was serving two minutes for Jake White who earned himself a ten minute game misconduct for checking from behind.
Both teams came out strong in the final period but Bemidji broke through first again and brought the game within one goal with just over ten minutes left to play from a John Forseth power play goal.
“You can’t do that. Once you’re up on a team you’ve got to try and bury them” said coach Esse, “We let them back in the game because of a stupid penalty. They’re a good team. It wasn’t pretty but we won.”
The game might not have been pretty for Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton, but it was exciting for players and fans alike. Nolan Meyer scored for Cloquet with three and a half minutes left in the game to give his team a 4-2 lead, which seemed to have put the final nail in the coffin. But Bemidji wasn’t done yet.
With just one minute left in the third period Bemidji’s Max Hazelton scored to bring the game back to one goal at 4-3. Matt Serratore, a sophomore, assisted on Bemidji’d last two goals and despite the eventual loss was not fazed by the intense situation.
“It’s fun to be under a little a pressure, it challenges you and that’s why I play hockey” said Serratore.
Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton’s captain Jack McFarlane felt the same way about his team:
“We have a lot of seniors on our team that have kind of been there and have been in big games before” said McFarlane, “They got that one goal and we told ourselves to stay calm and stay focused.”
After the goal was scored Bemidji called a timeout to discuss their strategy for the last minute of play in the third period.
“I told them to get the puck to the net and really crash hard” said Chiodo, “Always have two or three guys on the puck no matter what and make things happen.”
Bemidji would have one good rush at the net where there were several players from both teams crashing into the Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton net, but nothing came out of it as John Scheuer came up big and stopped the puck on the goal line. The period ended and so did the game with Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton winning 4-3 in exciting fashion.
“You’ve got half the year left and we got guys that need to improve a lot and that’s our job as coaches: were going to keep working and keep getting better” said coach Esse.
The loss was Bemidji’s first on the season and despite his team’s less than stellar play, coach Chiodo wants to move forward with the same philosophies and strategies that his team has skated by all season.
“I don’t believe in changing game plans. We still have to compete and play hard and play the right way” explained Chiodo, “Obviously we made it interesting at the end but ultimately you’ve still got to play and compete all the way through.”
1. Nolan Meyer, Cloquet/ Esko/Carlton
Meyer scored the game winning goal and also got two assists in the 4-3 win. Meyer’s point total on the season is now 25 points with 16 goals.
2. Matt Serratore, Bemidji
Serratore assisted on two of Bemidji’s three goals to bring his season point total to ten. This is probably the most intense game the sophomore has played in his varsity career, but Serratore acted like a seasoned veteran in the electrifying finish.
3. Jack McFarlane, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton
McFarlane scored Cloquet’s first goal and assisted on another to bring his season point total to 18. McFarlane’s late first period goal sparked his team and Cloquet never looked back.