Pirates learn hard lessons in 12-2 loss at Bemidji
BEMIDJI — "We got beat up."
There wasn't much else Josh Hardy could say after his Crookston hockey team fell 12-2 to Bemidji on Friday night. But to his team, the Pirates' coach tried to turn it into a learning experience.
"It is what it is," Hardy said. "They're much bigger, faster and stronger than us. That's what you get when you play a big Double A school."
At first, it looked like Crookston (0-2) might be able to keep up. A young team that showed plenty of offensive promise in its opening game, a 7-5 loss at Kittson County Central, put it on display early Friday.
Just seconds after the Lumberjacks' opening goal, the Pirates went on the power play and scored almost immediately. Senior forward Kaleb Thingelstad's shot smacked off Tanner Rebischke's pads, and Alex Longoria (So., F) was there to jam it home for a 1-1 tie seven minutes into the game.
But Bemidji (1-3) responded with five unanswered goals before Crookston scored again, when Thingelstad beat Rebischke on an unassisted breakaway. The Pirates drew another penalty shortly afterwards, giving the goal turning-point potential, but the Lumberjacks killed it off.
The period after Thingelstad's goal, from the 9:17 mark to the 1:30 mark in the second period, was Bemidji's longest scoring lull of the night. But Hunter Marcotte beat senior goaltender Carter Nelson on a power play, and the Jacks scored five more times before the night was up.
"They caught us off-guard with how well they rushed the puck," Hardy said. "Our defensemen just weren't quite ready for that."
It might have been easy to be fooled by the Lumberjacks' 3-24 record last season, or their 0-3 record coming into Friday. But regarding the latter, two of those losses came to perennial powers Warroad and Roseau.
"I watched them play Warroad and I thought, man, these guys go hard," Hardy said. "This is our second time out and their fourth, and it looked like that."
And one down season aside, there's a reason they've won 15 straight games against Crookston.
"You're talking about a school that has 50-some kids try out for their hockey team," Hardy said. "We have 21, and they're all out there for us. We expected them to be big and strong and fast. They're not towards the top of Section 8AA, but they'll be right in the middle and right in the mix."
Bemidji flexed its depth Friday night, as 16 Lumberjacks either scored a goal or assisted on one. Marcotte, Wyatt Mattfield and Cooper Malkowski all found the net twice. For much of the night, Bemidji rolled four lines against the Pirates' two.
Hardy saw a few positive signs. He thought his team looked dangerous at times in the offensive zone, despite struggling with zone entries through the middle. Nelson, despite giving up nine goals before being substituted, made a number of impressive saves on Lumberjack breakaways and shots from close range.
"I thought there was times that we looked really good tonight, and there was times where we looked overwhelmed," Hardy said. "That's kind of to be expected at the beginning of the season, especially with the youth that we have. They got some good experience to play a nice opponent."
After the game, Hardy said he wants his team to look at how Bemidji played and emulate that style. Physicality, energy, relentless attacking. As time goes on, maybe a Pirate team with 12 freshmen and sophomores, many of whom saw substantial time against the Lumberjacks, will be able to use Friday as a blueprint for doing their own beating up.
But first things first, there's the slight issue of putting the sting of a 10-goal loss out of sight and out of mind. That takes no small amount of resiliency. But there, at least, Hardy doesn't think his team will struggle.
"They're kids," he said. "It's probably more me that has to rebound mentally from it. When we get home, they'll be ready to get back out here next Thursday."
UP NEXT: The Pirates head to Thief River Falls Thursday, Jan. 28. The Prowlers are 0-3-1 this season, their most recent result being a 3-3 tie against Kittson County Central.
Last season, TRF won both games against Crookston, both by a score of 5-0.
- 10:37 first period (Bemidji): Nathan Alto short-handed
- 10:06 first period (Crookston): Alex Longoria (Kaleb Thingelstad) power play
- 5:16 first period (Bemidji): Lincoln Huerd power play
- 2:23 first period (Bemidji): Hunter Marcotte (Wyatt Mattfield, Connor Savard)
- 1:05 first period (Bemidji): Ethan Maish (Wylee Gladen, Tanner Rebischke)
- 14:22 second period (Bemidji): Wyatt Mattfield (Cade Voge)
- 10:59 second period (Bemidji): Wylee Gladen (Colton Pickett, Ethan Maish)
- 9:17 second period (Crookston): Kaleb Thingelstad
- 1:30 second period (Bemidji): Hunter Marcotte (Cole Matetich, Michael Dickinson) power play
- 15:48 third period (Bemidji): Wyatt Mattfield
- 10:38 third period (Bemidji): Cooper Malkowski (Tate Hammitt)
- 9:25 third period (Bemidji): Colton Pickett (Nathan Alto, Wyatt Mattfield)
- 7:40 third period (Bemidji): Grant Declusin (Cole Matetich, Rhett Seeger)
- 0:30 third period (Bemidji): Cooper Malkowski (Nathan Alto, Rhett Seeger)
- Crookston: Carter Nelson 37 saves on 46 shots, Jaren Bailey 7 saves on 10 shots
- Bemidji: Tanner Rebischke 14 saves on 16 shots
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