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No. 12 Moorhead tops No. 18 Bemidji in the final minutes

MOORHEAD-For a moment Thursday, Dec. 1, it looked like the all-too-familiar heartache Moorhead's boys hockey team has suffered at the hands of Bemidji in recent years. Fresh was the wound of the overtime loss in the Class 2A, Section 8 championsh...

Moorhead goalie Lance Leonard deflects a direct shot from Bemidji's Ryan Pogue during the Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, game at the Moorhead Sports Center.Dave Wallis / The Forum
Moorhead goalie Lance Leonard deflects a direct shot from Bemidji's Ryan Pogue during the Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, game at the Moorhead Sports Center. Dave Wallis / The Forum

MOORHEAD-For a moment Thursday, Dec. 1, it looked like the all-too-familiar heartache Moorhead's boys hockey team has suffered at the hands of Bemidji in recent years. Fresh was the wound of the overtime loss in the Class 2A, Section 8 championship game from last season. There's also the wound from losing in the section championship to the Lumberjacks two seasons ago.

Thursday had the makings of another scar when Bemidji, eyeing its sixth win over the No. 12-ranked Spuds in the last seven matchups, scored with 2 minutes, 51 seconds remaining to tie the game.

"We were just talking about getting pucks to the net and getting them at his feet and crashing the net," Moorhead junior left winger Carter Randklev said of the discussion on the Moorhead bench during the Bemidji timeout that followed the tying goal. "We knew the next goal probably wasn't going to be a pretty goal, but we just wanted to get that in there and get momentum and keep going."

With all the scars from Bemidji the last two seasons, Moorhead didn't care about pretty. Randklev went under a Bemidji defenseman's stick on a pass to Cole O'Connell, who had nothing but Bemidji goalie Matt Fitzgerald in front of him. O'Connell found the back of the net with 1:59 to go to make it 2-1. Moorhead later scored two empty-net goals to claim a 4-1 win over No. 18 Bemidji.

"It was a little broken play, and I ended up going up and seeing him cutting through the middle. It's a play that we've worked on quite a bit and it worked out for us in this game," Randklev said. "We'll definitely see them again. Every game is big in section play, but this is just another win for us to keep going from here."

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Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, but Moorhead held the advantage in shots 11-7. The second period was much of the same, but the Spuds increased their push, outshooting the Lumberjacks 10-4 in the second.

Randklev's backhander on a rebound off a Carter Howell shot from the point broke the tie with 8:44 to go. On a delayed penalty and with the extra attacker out, Bemidji tied things up when Nick Mannausau stuffed home a rebound. O'Connell and Randklev answered less than a minute later.

"We knew we just had to bring it hard every shift," O'Connell said. "We were doing it in the first and second, just wearing them down. It finally panned out. It's a great win to have. They're always beating us, but it's nice to beat them."

Jack Stetz added an empty netter with 57.4 seconds left and O'Connell did the same with 28.5 seconds left to seal the win for the Spuds (2-0).

"It's a game that we're happy about winning, but it's also Dec. 1.," Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said. "They did a really nice job, especially in the second period of keeping it close. I thought we were really doing a nice job of controlling the play, but just like it has been, I don't even know, probably eight of the last 10 times or something crazy like, it's been a one-goal game. I don't know if it's a statement. I know Dec. 1 we're 1-0 in the section. Hopefully, Dec. 3 we're 2-0."

FIRST PERIOD: no scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: no scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 1, M, Randklev (Howell, O'Connell), 8:16. 2, B, Mannausau (Hartje, Olson), 14:09. 3, M, O'Connell (Randklev), 15:01. 4, M, Stetz (Randklev), 16:03, empty net. 5, M, O'Connell, 16:31, empty net.

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SAVES: B, Fitzgerald 11-10-6-27. M, Leonard 7-4-13-24

Murphy has covered sports in Chicago, Minnesota and North Dakota since 2009, working for The Forum since 2012. Contact: cmurphy@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5548
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