Sam Livecchi made 33 saves and stopped 5 of 6 in a shootout to lead the Minnesota Wilderness to a 3-2 victory Thursday night over the Chippewa Steel.
Livecchi earned his 4th win on the season, and made several key saves throughout the night, including one on a breakaway in the 5-minute overtime when he denied Steel leading scorer Ethan Benz.
The Wilderness ended up with 2 shootout goals, Will Persson scored in the 3rd round and Barrett Hall put one past Steel goaltender Zach Hansen in the 6th to put the Wilderness in front 2-1. Livecchi then clinched the victory when he denied a chance by Barak Braslavski.
It was a tight neck-and-neck battle that was scoreless through most of the first period before Cole Crussberg-Roseen scored for Minnesota to give them a 1-0 lead with 3:14 left. A penalty at the ensuing faceoff then led to a power-play for Chippewa who wasted little time tying things up. J.J. Grainda scored the tying goal just 8 seconds after the Wilderness opened the scoring.
The 1-1 score remained all the way through the 2nd, despite a flurry of good chances for Chippewa. The Steel outshot the Wilderness in the middle frame by a 12-5 count, but the game remained tied, mostly due to Livecchi’s clutch goaltending.
The Steel did breakthrough to take a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd. Barak Braslavski was able to get one into the back of the net just 1:22 into the final frame. However, the Wilderness were able to get a little more pressure in the latter stages of the period, and tied things thanks to a wrist shot in the slot from Ethan Wolthers. Wolthers’ 7th of the season came with 5:00 minutes left in the 3rd, and the 2-2 deadlock remained through the rest of regulation and the 5:00 3-on-3 overtime.
The win improves the Wilderness record to 12-7-1 on the season, and snaps a 2-game losing streak. The Steel meanwhile suffered their first loss outside of regulation, and fell to 12-10-1. The win moves Wilderness into a tie in the Midwest Division standings with the Steel. Currently they are in a 3-way tie for 3rd place (the other team being Anchorage).
The Wilderness and Steel will tangle again Saturday in the 2nd game of the home-and-home series. Game 2 is set for 7:15pm at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.