Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

MLA comes back to beat Bluejackets


Dan Lingle

Moose Lake Area Rebel Jamie Benzie takes a shot against the Hibbing-Chisholm Bluejackets at Riverside Arena January 31.

The Moose Lake Area girls came back from a 2-0 second-period deficit to present their parents with more than carnations and hugs as the Rebels earned a nail-biter of a 3-2 win over the Hibbing-Chisholm Bluejackets on Parents Night at Riverside Arena in Moose Lake on Tuesday, January 31.

The Rebels, still ranked 13th in Class A by Let's Play Hockey, improved to 18-5-1. Hibbing-Chisholm, ranked 16th, went to 13-10-0. There was some deja vu since the first time the Rebels played the Bluejackets on the road December 15 and it was Jessica Bird getting the game-winner for 3-2 in overtime.

All four of MLA's top points-getters figured into this game's goals. The flashback came as Jessica Bird got the game-winning goal in the third period. Jessica Bird also had two assists to go to 46 goals and 22 assists for a first-in-the-state 68 points. Bird came into the game one behind the state leader in goals.

The area's top goalie, Maddy Gamst, in terms of both saves percentage (.925) and goals against average (1.67), earned her 17th win as she stopped 22-24 shots. The first period was 5-4, Rebels. The second period was dead even at 8-8. The third period was 12-10, Hibbing-Chisholm, for 24-23, Bluejackets.

The Bluejackets were able to go 1-3 on power plays. MLA did not have any advantages. Additionally, the Rebels, with 23 power play goals to their credit out of 64 opportunities for an impressive 35.9 percent, gave up what was only their ninth power play goal this year. MLA's penalty kill girls have now shut down an amazing 57 advantages against 66 chances for an outstandingly low 12.7 percent.

The first period was a cautious and scoreless stalemate. The Bluejackets were finally able to get an odd-man rush in the second period and scored on an assisted goal on an opportunistic rebound for 1-0 at 12:43. Hibbing-Chisholm chalked up an assisted power play goal for 2-0 at 6:08. MLA's best chance in the period came with 3:10 left. Jamie Benzie, coming in with 16 points, kept battling very hard trying to cement her position by the crease. The freshman forward finally found a puck to attempt to stuff in, but it was rejected by the net-minder. The rest of the second stanza stayed scoreless and the Rebels faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the final 17 minutes.

The Rebels' first goal to narrow the gap to 2-1 came at 1:31 as a hard shot by Jessica Bird thudded off the keeper's pads and came out to Jamie Bird, who was out in front for a rebound. It was her fifth goal of the season. Sage Gerard, the team and area leader in assists, got the second assist to go to 30 assists. The goal that tied the game at 2-2 was by Lauren Pederson as she was at the ready near the post on the bench side to jam one in at 7:10 with assists going to Jessica Bird and Jamie Bird. It was Pederson's 11th goal. The game-winner came on a wrist rocket by Jessica Bird for her 46th goal as she whizzed a wicked one from between the circles over the Bluejackets goalie's left shoulder for 3-2 at 11:52. Pederson was credited with her 13th assist.

The excitement was not over as MLA had to face its second power play of the game with Jamie Bird getting boxed for tripping with 3:31 remaining. Rebels Head Coach Joe Mohelsy, in his 11th year at the helm, called a smart time-out to settle the squad and to set some strategy. Even more nail chewing came as Jessica Bird got tangled up with a Bluejacket and was tagged for tripping to make it 15 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey. But as MLA had already done 57 times this year, the Rebels were able to stem the tide by keeping the Bluejackets wide and out to the sides and far away from the front. MLA secured the 3-2 victory with some more solid defense during even strength hockey.

Finally, the Rebels junior varsity team has had an outstanding season as they have lost only three games and have two ties. Two of the losses were against Class AA teams at the very tough Schwan Cup December 26-28.


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