A power move to the net late in overtime led to a powerful finish for the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday night in their game vs. the Bismarck Bobcats.
It started with Ren Morque swooping to the front of the Bismarck net where he attempted to slip the puck around goaltender Linards Lipskis. But Lipskis made the save, yet he could not stop Joe Cesario who, as he was camped out at the net’s post to the right of Lipskis, somehow got the rebound into the back of the net.
That play with 15 seconds left in overtime ended the 2022 NAHL Showcase for the Wilderness with a 2-1 win and a 2-1-1 record for the tournament.
The Wilderness (2-3-1) faced many obstacles throughout the night, most of them from their own mistakes. First, they gave Bismarck (0-3-1) the first power play of the game when Joe Guentzel was called for tripping 7:14 into the first. Bismarck then capitalized on that with a power play goal by Vertti Jantunen 58 seconds later.
Minnesota followed that with four more minor penalties through the end of the first and throughout the second period, which allowed the Bobcats to dominate play in the Wilderness zone. Minnesota goaltender Isac Posch stood strong and kept the Bobcats from expanding their lead, as Bismarck outshot Minnesota in the middle frame, 12-6. While the Wilderness never received the benefit of a power play for the entire game, Bismarck had five chances—capitalizing only on their initial opportunity in the first period.
In the 3rd period, the Wilderness played much more disciplined, and tied the game early. Adam Johnson scored the equalizer just 40 seconds into the final stanza, when he fired in a shot from the right face off circle. It was Johnson’s first goal as a junior A player, and was assisted by Jack Seaverson, who has now registered a point in three consecutive games.
With Bismarck prevented from getting an additional power play chance, Minnesota ended up outshooting the Bobcats the rest of the way by a 14-10 count. That includes a 5-4 edge in the overtime, which ended with Cesario’s fourth goal of the season (and first game-winner), and Morque’s team-leading seventh assist. For the game, the Wilderness outshot Bismarck by a 26-25 count.
Posch picked up the victory, which is his first since joining the Wilderness. He finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots Bobcat shots and improved his record to 1-3-1.
Lipskis took the loss for Bismarck stopping 26 Wilderness shots, and his record fell to 0-2-1.
The win also extends Minnesota’s point streak to three games after dropping their first three contests in regulation.
After playing four games in four days, the Wilderness begin a well-earned break. They will get almost two weeks off from game action, with the next contest scheduled for Sept. 30 at home vs. Anchorage. That will commence the longest home stretch in franchise history. Minnesota will play eight consecutive games at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, with no road game scheduled until Oct. 29 at St. Cloud.