BEMIDJI, Minn. -- If Babe turned blue from the cold, the Bemidji High School boys hockey team made Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin turn green with envy on the frigid stage of the Minnesota Hockey Day outdoor rink on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Playing under the growing shadow of Paul Bunyan, a spectacular shutout from goalie Broc Waldhausen and a natural hat trick from forward Wyatt Halvorson stole the show in a 3-0 Lumberjacks win.
“Our game was the cherry on top of this three-day sundae that we have here in this community,” BHS head coach Eric Monsrud said. “We planned for this and prepared for it. We wanted to come out and put a good show on. We wanted to give everybody an opportunity to get a bite of that cherry. I feel like we did that tonight.”
Not only did Bemidji (7-9-1) claim the dominant win, but just about everybody -- from the ice to the bench -- stepped up.
“We did have a plan to play (backup goalie) Andrew Johanns in the third, but after that second period, Andrew came up to us,” Monsrud said. “He’s like, ‘You know what, Broc’s playing really well, and I think we need to keep him in net.’ For him to step up like the man that he was right there was a great thing. He recognized the grand scale of things.”
For Waldhausen, an added 17 minutes on the ice meant a lot more than just some extra playing time.
“It’s humbling,” said the senior netminder, who finished with 23 saves. “To have somebody like that make a sacrifice for the team, it’s just outstanding. It’s character, is what it is.”
And on the other end of the rink, Halvorson had himself a day, too.
“It couldn’t have been any more special, I’d say,” Halvorson said. “Winning in front of your city is just so special. We had so many fans come out tonight. Obviously it’s great to get a home W just throughout the season. But for Hockey Day Minnesota, to win in your city, there’s really nothing better than that.”
Halvorson kicked things off with the opening goal at the 11 minute, 12 second mark of the first period. Tate Hammitt fired a shot on goal in the closing seconds of a power play, and after a deflection knocked down the puck in front of the crease, Halvorson was in position to bury it.
The junior doubled down in the final minute of the second period, as he redirected a Chase Mock pass for a backdoor goal during a 5-on-3 power play.
“After that first period, we kind of got into the groove of things,” Halvorson said. “After that, we were hard to beat. We figured out what we needed to do with this cold weather, how to adjust to our shifts. We came out in the second and third and just buried them.”
Waldhausen made Bemidji’s 2-0 advantage possible with some flashy kick-save heroics midway through the middle frame, as he sprawled left, then right for stops once his initial save bounced away.
“I’m so happy for Broc,” Monsrud said. “He really stepped up and came out here, performed at a very high level. It’s just great to see.”
In the third period, Halvorson secured his Hockey Day hat trick at the 14:20 mark. Greenway goalie Tyler Penney couldn’t clean up a redirect from Bjorn Jorgenson, and Halvorson corralled the loose puck and swept it into the vacant net.
“That’s another example of a teammate stepping up to the plate there,” Waldhausen said of Halvorson’s goals. “(He’s) really changing momentum, getting us going and riling up the boys. It’s a great couple instances of what a team is about right there.”
As he had all night, Waldhausen stayed perfect to the finish.
“It was great seeing Broc succeed,” Halvorson said. “With him playing so great, it kind of pushed us all to win the game for him. When your goalie’s playing that solid, you want to keep it that way.”
Fireworks boomed in the night sky as the Lumberjacks capped the outdoor hockey showcase with the shutout victory.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Waldhausen said. “And tenfold with it being in your hometown, where you grow up with the boys. It’s amazing.”