Joe Cesario scored twice, while Dylan Jensen added two assists to lead the Minnesota Wilderness past the Austin Bruins 4-1 in an NAHL pre-season contest Friday night.
The Wilderness built a 2-0 lead thanks to Cesario’s first goal, with 4:15 left in the first period, and then a goal late in the 2nd from Teddy Merrill.
Jensen set up the first tally, when he helped get the puck to Cesario who fired the puck past Bruin starting goaltender Trent Wiemken from the face-off circle to Wiemken’s left to make it 1-0.
Merrill potted his goal just :05 after a Minnesota power-play expired, as the home team put some intense pressure on the Bruins at the tail end of the man-advantage. Merrill ended up re-directing a shot from the high slot that beat Austin backup netminder Chris Brown with 3:13 left in the middle frame.
Austin would cut the Wilderness lead in half before the 2nd period was over. Adler Johnston made the score 2-1 with a goal with 43 seconds remaining in the period that was assisted by Matt Desiderio.
But the Wilderness would not let them get any closer. Despite getting three chances on the power play in the final 20 minutes, Austin would be kept off the scoreboard in the final 20 minutes, and Minnesota iced the game with 2 empty net markers.
Jensen set up Cesario once again with 1:11 remaining as the pair both picked up their 2nd points on the night to make it 3-1, while Ren Morque made it 4-1 when he scored a short-handed goal that he could have learned in a pool hall. While in his own end, Morque appeared to be using the boards on a routine attempt to clear the puck out. But instead of just sending the puck into the Austin zone, he ended up angling it perfectly off the left-wing wall and into the Bruin goal.
Isak Posch earned the win in net for Minnesota, as he denied Austin on 18 of 19 shots. Wiemken stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced in the 30:26 he played for Austin, while Brown kept out 9 of 10 Wilderness shots in relief.
Neither team managed to light the lamp on the power-play, with Austin going 0-for-3 and the Wilderness finishing 0-for-2, although Minnesota did manage to score shortly after its second chance with the man-advantage.
Rookies dominated the lineups for both teams, especially Austin, who came in with only 4 players who could be considered Jr. hockey veterans. All but 8 Wilderness players in the Friday night lineup are looking to play their first season of Jr. hockey.
Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday. The teams will switch venues, as Austin will host with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.