A 2-0 lead after the first period turned out to not be enough for the Minnesota Wilderness on Friday night, as they dropped their pre-season operner to the host, Brookings Blizzard, 4-3.
The Wilderness staked the early lead with unassisted goals – the first on even strength by Isak Bergland and the second on the power play by Tyler Hart. In the second period, the Blizzard's T.J. Samec scored to cut the lead to 2-1, but the Wilderness regained a two-goal cushion with a goal by Michael Orke, that was set up by Hart. However, Brookings was able to get one more before the period closed, as Ryan Sete scored to make it 3-2.
The Blizzard managed to tie the game in the 3rd period, and notched the game-winner with 1:29 remaining in regulation. Sander Berg backstopped the Blizzard to the victory while Ryan Anderson took the loss for the Wilderness.
Finnish recruit Julius Koskinen was slated to start the game, but a minor lower body injury suffered shortly before the game required a last minute change. The Wilderness also played without veterans Michael Covach, Billy Exell, Dan Litchke, and Swedish recruit Tobias Bjorklund.
Wilderness head coach Corey Millen said while he was disappointed they could not win the game, he is not going to jump to conclusions due to it being the team's first pres-season game.
"We're hoping it can only get better," said Millen.
He said he was pleased with his team's early effort and how some of the younger players (Bergland and Orke) were able to provide some offense.
"We dominated the first period, but they took it to us in the second and third," said Millen. "We made some bad mistakes that turned into goals. Both teams played sloppy and rusty, but they found a way to win."
The game marked the first meeting between the two teams since former Wilderness assistant coach Dan Daikawa was announced as head coach of the Blizzard last spring. The same two teams will again this Friday, September 12th at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet at 7:05 PM. Admission is $5 or free with a non-perishable food item donation. The Minnesota Wilderness were able to donate over 300 pounds from last seasons exhibition game and want to beat the Blizzard and that mark this Friday.