With 3 of its top scorers out of the lineup Friday night, the Minnesota Wilderness failed to dig itself of its mid-season funk, and fell to the St. Cloud Norsemen, 5-1.
St. Cloud scored twice in the 1st and 2nd periods to build a 4-0 lead going into the 3rd. They scored one more early in the third, before the Wilderness got on the board later in the final frame.
It’s the sixth straight defeat for the Wilderness, who were without team captain Ethan Wolthers who is tied for the team lead in points with 30; Will Persson, who came into the game tied for the team lead in goals with 12; and Matt McQuade, who is 4th on the team in points with 23. Wolthers was out due to injury, Persson missed due to visa issues, and McQuade could not play due to illness.
Blake Perbix led the way offensively for the Norsemen with 2 goals. His first came 3:57 into the 1st period, and his 2nd was from a breakaway stemming from a terrific stretch pass from Ryan O’Neill with 9:33 left in the 2nd. St. Cloud also received goals from Blake Mesenburg, Duke Kiffin and Brandon Lajoie. Mesenburg also added one assist, while O’Neill finished the night with 3 helpers.
The Wilderness’ lone goal came from Cole Crusberg-Roseen. Normally a defenseman, Crusberg-Roseen was in the lineup as a center tonight, and he cashed in with his team-leading 13th goal with 6:07 left in the 3rd. On a play just to the right of the St. Cloud net, the Stratham, NH, native lunged for a loose puck as a defender was all over him, and he managed to knock into the net to the left of St. Cloud goaltender Tomas Bolo. Niko Rexine and Ian Duffy, playing in his first Jr. A game, assisted on the tally.
Bolo finished the night stopping 19 shots, as the Norsemen outshot the Wilderness, 34-20. Graham Burke started the game for Minnesota, but suffered an injury just before St. Cloud’s 5th goal, and had to be replaced by Jacob Zacharewicz. Zacharewicz stopped all 9 shots he faced in relief, while Burke finished with 20 saves on 25 shots.
With the loss, the Wilderness fell to 13-13-1 on the season, while St. Cloud improved to 12-9.
A rematch comes tomorrow night in St. Cloud. Puck drop at the Municipal Athletic Complex is scheduled for 7:00p.m.