The Crookston Pirates lost 3-2 to the Bemidji Lumberjacks on Thursday night at Crookston Sports Center. Crookston played well against a Class AA team, which is a class above Crookston. The Pirates were led by sophomore forward Harrison Bjorgo, who scored both of Crookston’s goals in the second period. The Lumberjacks had three different goal scorers.
"It was a good, competitive, hard-played hockey game," Pirate head coach Joel Gasper said. "I thought our boys played hard and at times played better than we've played all season. A lot of positives last night. Overall, we feel pretty good about competing with an AA school.
"Harry got himself in the right areas at the right time," Gasper continued about Bjorgo's goals. "Both goals were nothing pretty but came right around the net. It was nice to see because that's what we need out of him. Harry is a role player on that line and he filled his role last night."
The first period was mostly controlled by the Pirates and it wasn’t until a goal by Bemidji’s Parker Lucas that the Lumberjacks started to heat up. Five minutes later Brett Isensee tapped in a Jake Leitner shot that had ricocheted off the pipe before being shoved home. The Pirates had been up nine shots on goal to three before the first goal that swung the game Bemidji’s way.
"Especially the first eight minutes, we were absolutely all over them and I think the shots were 9-1 at one point," Gasper said. "They outplayed us in the third but like I said I saw a lot of good things.”
The second period is when the game’s intensity was turned up a little bit. At the 1:18 mark, Bjorgo slammed a shot in seconds after a faceoff in the attacking zone. Sophomores Doug Larson and Bobby Tiedemann assisted on the play. With the game gradually getting more and more chippy, Bjorgo was again able to net a goal with 2:50 left and was assisted by junior Chandler St. Michel and senior Brady Heppner.
With 1:40 left in the period, the scrum escalated. The Pirate players protected sophomore goalie Adam Huglen, who was being slashed while holding on to the puck that led to the ensuing scrum.
In a game where both teams went on runs of dominant play it was fitting to have it end in a third period where a goal was needed to seal the deal. The Lumberjacks’ winning goal came with 16:45 left in the period off the stick of Noah Burns. At the end of the game the Pirates looked as though they might knot things up with several serious scoring chances. So when a Bemidji player laid on the puck with the final seconds running off the clock, he was not making fans on the Crookston side. It resulted in a scrum after regulation that the refs had to break up.
Page 2 of 2 - Huglen played a good game, stopping 32 shots on the night. Bemidji’s Grant Tharaldson made 23 saves.
"Hugie made the saves he should have," said Gasper. "He played well. He's a gamer and rises to the occasion for the big games."
The Pirates fall to 4-8-2 on the year and will travel to Warroad on Saturday to take on the Warriors at 4:15 p.m.
"That's a huge game," Gasper said. "We wanted to play well last night so we could go into Warroad with confidence. That's the biggest game of the season. The fact of the matter is we need a win. We haven't won since Fort Frances. We are playing better, we just need to find a way to get in the 'W' column."