A 3rd period goal from Trevor Kukkonen was the difference Wednesday night for the Minnesota Magicians, as they defeated the Minnesota Wilderness in Cloquet, 5-4.
From the bottom of the right face-off circle, Kukkonen roofed a shot over the left shoulder of Wilderness goaltender Sam Livecchi with 6:46 left to play in the final frame. It was Kukkonen’s 11th goal of the season, and it halted a rally for the Wilderness in which they managed to tie the game at 4, after being down 4-2 going into the 3rd.
Minnesota had control in the early moments of the game, staking themselves out to a 2-0 lead in the first 7:43. Noah Decker and Will Persson each scored to give the home team the game’s first lead. The Magicians were able to tie the game before the 1st period ended, with goals by Gavin Best and Hunter Longhi in the final 4:15 of the 1st.
The Magicians continued that momentum from the 1st with two goals late in the 2nd. Longhi and Best each posted their 2nd goals of the game in the final 3:34 of the middle frame.
The Wilderness began to come alive in the 3rd. Gunnar Thoreson scored to cut the Magician lead to 1 with a goal 5:42 into the final period on a puck that appeared to deflect off his shoulder and past Magician goaltender Hank Levy. A tying goal then came with 10:51 left on a nifty move by Charlie Erickson. Ethan Wolthers led the rush into the Magician zone with Erickson on a 2-on-1. Wolthers skated in the offensive zone on the right side, stopped at the right circle, delivered a pass to Erickson who dangled his way around the defender and backhanded a shot into the Magician net for his 3rd goal of the season.
For the game, the Wilderness outshot the Magicians, 39-26, but had several good opportunities stifled by Levy, who won his 2nd straight start since joining the Magicians last week.
The Wilderness return to the ice this weekend, as they take on the Chippewa Steel in another home-and-home series. They’ll play Friday in Chippewa Falls at 7pm, followed by a game Saturday in Cloquet at 7:15.