Kale Witt stops 38, Bemidji's sticks go cold in tie with Detroit Lakes

Jan. 23—BEMIDJI — Joey Fankhanel had a chance to send the Bemidji Community Arena crowd home with a euphoric feeling on Thursday night.

With 30 seconds left in overtime, the Bemidji High School boys hockey junior forward carried the puck into the Detroit Lakes zone and ripped a shot from the high slot. The puck beat Lakers goalie Kale Witt but couldn't beat the crossbar.

That was the last gasp for the Lumberjacks in a 1-1 tie on a night where they outshot DL 39-18.

"(Witt) played fantastic," BHS head coach Ben Kinne said. "He was really, really good. Did we get a little unlucky? Sure, but you have to make your own luck. We have to work on scoring goals. They can happen in a variety of different ways. We just need to manufacture more."

The Jacks came off a 12-day stretch without games to host Detroit Lakes at the BCA. They powered through some rusty moments to erase a one-goal deficit before dominating the final 25 minutes. However, Witt stood on his head, making 38 saves to salvage a tie.

After a scoreless first period, Dalton Songstad capitalized on the Lakers' first power play 3:40 into the second period. Songstad took his initial shot from the faceoff dot. BHS goaltender Tate Metcalf kicked the rebound back out to Songstad, who picked the top-right corner to give DL a 1-0 lead.

The Jacks' power play had been on the upswing in the new year but still sat at 10.9% heading into Thursday's tilt against Detroit Lakes. After two missed opportunities in the second period, Briggs Knott didn't let a third slip.

Dominic Arndt won a puck battle in the corner, then fed Noah Mannausau at the blue line. Mannausau found Knott on the far side of the ice, who fired a shot off the post and past Witt to tie the game.

"We spent a good deal of time with (the power play), especially the last couple of days," Kinne said. "We've been trying to ramp up our special teams more. Look at today's game. It was 1-1, with each goal coming from special teams. You're going to get opportunities, and you have to make them count when they're there."

The shots-on-goal margin took a dramatic turn in the final two frames. Bemidji (5-9-1) outshot DL 19-8 in the third period and overtime. Detroit Lakes (9-7-1) blocked a bevy of shots down the stretch and cleared second-chance opportunities away from BHS sticks searching for the winning goal.

"I thought we had our chances there in the end," Kinne said. "They were right there on guys' sticks. You have to execute when the time comes.

"I thought it was a really good hockey game overall. Their team played hard; we played hard. It was just one of those games where it was deadlocked from the start."

Finishing scoring chances has been a thorn in the side of Kinne and the Lumberjacks this season. Bemidji scored three or fewer goals for the 11th time in 15 games on Thursday. In those games, the Jacks are 3-7-1.

"I'd like to score more goals," Kinne quipped when asked how BHS can gain more consistency heading into sections in February. "You look at most of the games that we've played this year. They're one-goal games. We're battle-tested when it comes to that. I'd like to see us get over the hump. We haven't played with many two-goal leads this year. Finishing is going to be a big emphasis going forward. We need to figure out how to finish at the net front or when you have a chance on a rush."

Bemidji 1, Detroit Lakes 1 (OT)

DL 0 1 0 0 — 1

BHS 0 1 0 0 — 1

First period — No scoring.

Second period — DL GOAL: Songstad (unassisted) PP, 3:40; BHS GOAL: Knott (Mannausau, Arndt) PP, 12:09.

Third period — No scoring.

Overtime — No scoring.

Saves — Metcalf (BHS) 17; Witt (DL) 38.