After struggling with only one win in the final month of the 2021 portion of the 2021-22 season, the Wilderness have started 2022 on the right foot.
After falling behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period Saturday, Minnesota came alive to outscore Fairbanks 4-1 for the game’s final 40 minutes to win, 5-4, forcing a split in the 2-game weekend series and snapping the Ice Dogs’ 9-game winning streak.
Reid Conn was the hero, as he scored the game-winner with 6:57 remaining in the third period. Conn took advantage of a neutral ice turnover, picked up a loose puck in front of the Fairbanks bench, skated to the circle to the left of the Fairbanks net and unleashed a wrist shot that whipped past Ice Dog goaltender Tyler Krivtsov’s stick side into the back of the net.
The Wilderness (15-17-1) also had 2 goals from Bryce Howard and single tallies from Max Neill and Jackson Lucia. Three of those goals came in a 2:40 span in the 2nd that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Neill began the comeback with his 5th season from Cole Crusberg-Roseen and Matt McQuade at the 8:52 mark. That was followed by Lucia’s goal 1:37 later for his 1st since joining the Wilderness in November, and then Howard scored his 2nd of the game and 6th of the year to give them their first lead of the night at 11:32.
That lead was short-lived. The Ice Dogs (23-9-1) would tie the game at 4 when Marcus Lund beat Konrad Kausch for his 2nd goal of the season with 3:01 left in the 2nd.
A tight 3rd period would remain scoreless until Conn performed his heroics. Not only was the goal his first game-winner, it’s also the Centennial, CO, native’s first as a Jr. A player.
A sleepy 1st period for Minnesota Fairbanks an early lead for the 2nd straight game. As they did Friday, the Ice Dogs had built a 2-0 thanks to goals from Billy Renfrew and Parker Dorn. Minnesota got on the board with 5:33 left in the 1st when Bryce Howard scored his first of the night and 5th of the season from Kallum Daikawa and Aaron Pionk, with his first of 2 assists in the game. Fairbanks ended up winning Friday’s game, 2-1, but could not hang on in Saturday night’s contest.
Saturday was overall a solid night for former Hermantown Hawks as Lucia and Pionk combined for 1 goal and 2 assists.
The former Duluth East Greyhound Kausch stood tall in the late moments sealing his 2nd win on the season, making 23 saves on 27 shots. Meanwhile Krivtsov would see his 6-game winning streak snapped, as he stopped 24 of 29 Wilderness shots.
Minnesota is now off until next weekend. They will return to the ice Saturday, Jan. 8, for a game at home vs. the Chippewa Steel.