Croix Kochendorfer stopped all 31 shots Saturday night in leading the Chippewa Steel to a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wilderness.
It was the first game of 2022 for the Steel (17-15-1) as the team returned after a 3-week break. The team showed little rust in the early moments as it jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 1st period when Sam Frandina beat Wilderness goaltender Konrad Kausch on a power-play goal 4:26 into the frame. That goal was followed by Ryan Remick’s tally with 3:23 remaining when he converted on a 2-on-1 on a feed from Braden Lindstrom. The Steel would seal the game on an empty-net goal from Nick Sajevic with 3:05 remaining the 3rd.
The loss is Minnesota’s 11th in their last 13 games.
The Wilderness (15-18-1) had moments to take back momentum in the first 2 periods as they controlled most of the play, outshooting Chippewa by a 25-13 count over the first 40 minutes. But most of the chances were snuffed out by good defensive positioning by the Steel and solid goaltending by Kochendorfer, as the rookie from St. Paul, MN, notched his first shutout of his Jr. A career. Chippewa limited the Wilderness chances in the 3rd, outshooting the Wilderness by an 11-6 count.
The Wilderness were aided by the return of Will Persson, who missed most of December renewing his work visa in Europe. The veteran from Sweden leads the Wilderness in power-play goals with 6, but the team still could not convert with the man-advantage, falling short on all 4 opportunities. The Wilderness have now been held scoreless on the power-play for 9 straight games. Meanwhile, Chippewa finished 1 for 3 with the extra man.
Minnesota returns to the ice next weekend, as they take on the Minnesota Magicians in a home-and-home series. Friday’s game will be in Cloquet, with puck drop scheduled for 7:15pm. Saturday night’s rematch in Richfield will begin at 7pm.