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Briggs Knott bounces back, helps Jacks snap losing streak against Alexandria

Jan. 6—BEMIDJI — Briggs Knott didn't play most of the first period.

The Bemidji High School boys hockey junior forward took a cross-checking penalty on an Alexandria player after a whistle 7:07 into the first period. His infraction earned him a spot in the penalty box.

Once his two minutes were up, he sat on the bench for the rest of the first period.

"It was a stupid penalty," Knott said. "Any penalty after the whistle isn't a good one. It hurts the team, and I was selfish for it. But you have to respond after something like that happens."

Sports have a funny way of presenting chances for retribution.

Knott served his sentence and returned to the ice in the middle frame. He paid off an odd-man rush with Joey Fankhanel and Dominic Arndt, scoring the go-ahead goal with 3:42 left in the second period.

"I knew I was going to get a chance," Knott said. "I just had to make the most of it."

Knott later assisted on the eventual game-winner in the third period, aiding the Lumberjacks to a 3-2 win over Alexandria on Saturday at the Bemidji Community Arena.

"We talked about it between (the first and second) periods," BHS head coach Ben Kinne said. "You can't put yourself above the team in that moment. That's what he did. But you know what? He's a resilient kid, and he can be coached pretty hard. I'm happy to have him on the team, and he showed up after that. He didn't pout, he performed."

Bemidji (5-9-0) snapped its three-game losing streak on Saturday, and it started unconventionally.

Power plays haven't been fruitful for the Lumberjacks or Cardinals (4-7-1) this season. BHS converted on just 9.25% of its 43 chances entering Saturday's contest. Alexandria was even worse, capitalizing on 5.9% of its 34 chances, according to MN Boys' Hockey Hub.

Benji O'Leary got the BHS man-advantage unit going in the right direction. He ripped a shot from the high slot through traffic to give BHS a 1-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first period.

"He's got a motor, and he can really forecheck," Kinne said of O'Leary. "On his power-play goal, it's not always going to go how you draw it up. He's wheeling around the top of the circle and gets a shot off. That's a really good goal, and I'm happy for him."

Alexandria responded with the tying goal four minutes later. Jack Lamski fed a tape-to-tape pass to Gavin Olson through the neutral zone for a breakaway. Olson fended off a backchecker and scored with a five-hole beating backhand shot.

Knott gave the Jacks a 2-1 lead in the second period before assisting on Fankhanel's shorthanded tally to make it 3-1.

"Joey had a good chip out (of the defensive zone) to me, and I saw him get tripped up in the neutral zone," Knott said. "He made a good effort to get back in the play. I sauced it over to him, and he made a beautiful shot. That was a big goal for us."

Gage Castle got one back for the Cardinals late in the third period on the power play. He took a shot from the blue line that found its way through traffic for Alexandria's third power-play goal this season.

The Cardinals pushed for the tying goal over the last three minutes, but Knott drew a tripping penalty in the neutral zone with 1:20 left, capping a 180-degree turnaround from the start of his game.

"Everyone has to do their part in those moments," Knott said. "You have to block shots. You have to chip picks out of the zone. You have to take hits to make plays. That's all part of the game."

Saturday ended a stretch of six games in 10 days for the Jacks. They went 2-4 in those games with wins over St. Cloud and Alexandria.

"They're a well-coached team," Kinne said of the Cardinals. "I thought they played hard, and they were physical. That was the most physical game we played all season. At the end of the day, that's ice-bag hockey. You're going to take hits, but that's what it takes for us to win games."

Bemidji has a 12-day break before its next game against Detroit Lakes at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the BCA. Kinne hopes the extended time away from game action allows his players to recuperate after a physically demanding stretch of games.

"We're probably not at 100% after this, right?" Kinne said. "We've been grinding, so I'm happy to see them get rewarded with a good effort and win the game. ... The biggest thing is just continuing to get better. It doesn't matter if we're practicing or playing. We just have to get better and (keep) taking steps forward."

Bemidji 3, Alexandria 2

ALX 1 0 1 — 2

BHS 1 1 1 — 3

First period — BHS GOAL: O'Leary (Neadeau, Stodgell) PP, 9:00; ALX GOAL: Olson (Lamski) 13:05.

Second period — BHS GOAL: Knott (Fankhanel, Arndt) 13:18.

Third period — BHS GOAL: Fankhanel (Knott) SH, 2:55; ALX GOAL: Castle (Lamski, Kompelien) PP, 13:56.

Saves — T. Metcalf (BHS) 23; B. Metcalf (ALX) 24.