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GIRLS HOCKEY: Bemidji Loses 3-1, Relies on Senior-Led Reconstruction Year

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There is no doubt about it. Both Lex and Nettie have been looked at, BHS head coach Mike Johnson said of defender Lexi Leitner and goalkeeper Nettie Kimble. Even seniors from last year knew that in a tough situation, Netties is likely to be the first player on the ice (to watch), and then Lex. It’s not just this year that it’s their team.

On Tuesday, Bemidji’s loss fell to 0-10 in the season. All 10 games were multi-goal defeats, although the two-goal difference on Tuesday was as close as the farmers have held since game No. 2.

They know their team and they are the senior leaders, Johnson said. They get a little frustrated, I guess. Tonight was a little bit better I guess. We were in it and it ended up 3-1. It is no fun to give up five or six goals per game.

No, BHS is not afraid of opponents at this point, and the ultimate goal of a state tournament seems about as close as Pluto. But Leitner and Kimble make sure that their higher seasons are not lost.

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All (younger girls) are super fun, said Leitner. They all work really hard, so it’s super fun to play with, with their effort to give 100%. This team is super young, but as we get older we will improve.

Bemidji junior Chloe Hasbargen (4) will ride the puck in the first period against Fergus Falls on First National Rink on Tuesday.  (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Bemidji junior Chloe Hasbargen (4) will ride the puck in the first period against Fergus Falls on First National Rink on Tuesday. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

In the fall, the two were in a similar role. Leitner and Kimble were again the only seniors on the girls’ team – but they set a dominant 11-2 record as No. 1 in doubles for a program that went 13-1 and won the section championship. Victories were harder to come by this winter.

(The transition) is tough, but we know what winning feels like, Kimble said. We know how to be good role models, maintain a positive attitude and lead the girls through it. (We want to) show them what varsity time is and give them the experience.

On Tuesday on the ice, Maddie Hulter got Fergus Falls (5-4-1) on the board at 6:52 of the first period, scored a rebound and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead. The score remained steadfast in the break despite a crazy scramble in the opposite crease in the final minutes, which saw Bemidji get chances to bury the equalizing goal before the chance was wiped out.

Piper Andrews terrorized BHS in the second period with an abundance of close range shots, but she met her party in Kimble, who ended the night with 22 saves and was a perfect 9-for-9 in the middle stanza.

The Otters still had a small 1-0 lead in the third period, but they doubled it at 5:20 when Ellie Andersen scored on the top shelf.

Leitner cut it back to 2-1 three minutes later and lifted a wrister in the top corner on assists from Mya Lundeen and Bella Webb. But Andrews eventually found her goal at 6:28 am during a breakaway with a defender all over the end goal of the match.

Bemidji senior Lexi Leitner (8) shoots on First National Rink in the second period against Fergus Falls on Tuesday.  (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Bemidji senior Lexi Leitner (8) shoots on First National Rink in the second period against Fergus Falls on Tuesday. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Despite a known loss, Johnson reiterated that this season’s rebuild continues through his veterans.

They are two important components to our team, he said. Other than Lex’s six years of varsity experience and Nettie’s five, we really don’t have much varsity experience in the locker room. But every game played this year got that experience. I felt it was really showing tonight that they were growing as a team.

Bemidji will be back on the ice on Thursday, February 18 at 7:15 PM for a rematch against River Lakes in St. Cloud. The Stars won the season opener against BHS 5-3 on January 14.

Obviously, losing the first 10 games isn’t ideal, but we just have to keep looking ahead, Leitner said. We don’t look back.

I love hockey. It’s always been so positive in my life, Kimble added. We just have to be strong, model what we want and stay positive.

Fergus Falls 3, Bemidji 1

FF 1 0 2-3

BHS 0 0 1 – 1

First Period – 1, FF, Hulter (Goepferd), 6:52.

Second period – No score.

Third Period – 2, FF, Andersen (unaided), 5:20; 3, BHS, Leitner (Lundeen, Webb), 8:10; 4, FF, Andrews (unaided), 10:32.

Goalies (shot saves) – BHS, Kimble (22-25); FF, Jyrkas (16-17).

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