Rylee Solheim scored the game-winning goal with 3:53 to play, and Crookston girls' hockey ended the regular season with a 2-1 win over Bemidji on Tuesday at the Crookston Sports Center.
The Pirates improved to 11-13 on the season, while the Lumberjacks fell to 10-15.
"We weren't at our best for the first two periods, we weren't getting shots on net, but we kept plugging away," said coach Tim Moe. "The girls believed at the end."
Crookston and Bemidji both had their share of zone time and scoring opportunities through the first period, which ended scoreless but with Bemidji winning the shots battle 10-4. It had several dangerous passes into the slot that couldn't find a stick.
Behind two Crookston penalties in succession, the Lumberjacks grabbed all the momentum in the second period along with the lead, scoring 11:02 in. Meray Eichstad scored on the power play to make it 1-0, as Bemidji outshot the Pirates 15-2.
"We decided that this wasn't gonna come easy, and we really had to bear down and get some in the net,” said Nora Peterson (Jr., F). “It wasn't gonna be given to us."
Crookston began putting pressure on the Lumberjacks in the third period. Peterson snapped off a wrist shot that beat Nettie Kimble with 12:36 to play, and the Pirates had two other point-blank chances denied in the next few minutes.
"We talked between the second and the third, just shoot the puck," Moe said. "You double up our shots, we'll score a goal, and we'll see what happens after that."
Solheim broke the deadlock off an assist from her sister, Cassie Solheim (8, F), with Peterson also in on the play.
"Me and Cassie have been waiting to get our sister duo thing going," Solheim said. "So we were really excited for that."
Solheim’s game-winner was her second goal of the season, and second game-winner in the last two games — she scored the deciding goal in a 4-2 win at International Falls last Saturday.
Grace Koshney (Jr., G) stopped 31 shots for the Pirates to pick up the win.
Crookston outshot Bemidji, 12-7, in the final period.
"The girls really took great pride in how much they wore down Bemidji," Moe said. "The last five minutes or so, all I heard on the bench was, 'They're coasting. We got them.' They were just taking great pride in everything they were doing there and not giving much of anything. Just a great third period by us and just really proud of the girls on how they finished."
UP NEXT: Crookston will host Detroit Lakes (4-19, 0-8 Section 8AA) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the play-in game of the Section 8AA Playoffs. The Pirates are hosting their first playoff game since 2015.
Crookston beat Detroit Lakes twice this season: 3-1 in Crookston on Dec. 12, and 3-2 in Detroit Lakes on Jan. 28.
The winner of Thursday's game will go on to play top-seeded Warroad (19-4-2, 6-0) in Thief River Falls on Saturday.
"I think it means a lot to the community to be able to see the girls' program developing into this competitive team that can really show what we're about," Peterson said.
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