Wilderness Fall to Windigo in OT

The Minnesota Wilderness completed its fourth successful third period comeback this season Saturday night, but an early overtime goal from the Wisconsin Windigo gave a 3-2 victory to the visitors.

Luke Jech’s second goal of the season 6:32 into the final period tied the game at 2, and ultimately forced the 5-minute extra sudden death session.  In the OT, Wisconsin (3-7-0) needed less than a minute to finish the contest. Tyler Grahme scored just 0:47 after puck drop on a wrist shot that beat Minnesota (6-3-2) netminder Konrad Kausch on his glove side.  Cole Mickel registered his 3rd assist of the game on the goal, while Ben Anderson also recorded a helper.

Joe Cesario also scored for Minnesota, when his first period power play goal tied the game at 1.  Cesario tapped in his 7th of season on a play that began with a shot by Ren Morque.  Morque fired a shot that was redirected by Cole Gordon and the puck bounced along the goal line and was knocked in just after striking the post to the right of Wisconsin netminder Max Beckford

The Windigo opened the scoring at the 5:16 mark when Will Schumacher redirected a shot from Mickel to beat Kausch on his stick side.  Zachary Cline also assisted on Schumacher’s third goal of the season.

Another redirection from a Mickel shot gave the Windigo a 2-1 lead late in the 2nd period.  This time, Mickel’s drive went in off Connor Mahony’s skate with 2:38 left in the middle frame.  Grahme also assisted on Mahony’s first of the season.

Minnesota appeared to pick up some momentum early in the 3rd period thanks to a fight between Cesario and the Windigo’s Jonathan Bell.  Cesario landed a series of right hand strikes which gave him the edge in the bout and the Wilderness responded by recording the tying goal just over four minutes later.

Eddie Shepler helped set up the equalizer.  The veteran skated into the Wisconsin zone on the left side, sent a slap shot off the end boards that angled toward the right face-off circle where Adam Johnson quickly relayed the puck to Jech who skated directly in front of the Windigo net, and his shot beat Beckford on his glove side.

The goal capped off a big weekend for the line of Shepler, Johnson and Jech, with the trio combining for 11 points:  With Friday’s totals, the assist for Shepler gave him two goals and two assists, Johnson ended up with four assists, and Jech posted two goals and one assist.

In goal, the OT loss for Kausch was the first blemish on his record since September 10, as his record fell to 2-1-1.  The Duluth native finished with 19 saves on 22 shots.  Meanwhile, Beckford turned aside 26 of 28 Wilderness shots and improved his mark to 2-5.

The Wilderness special teams did not end up being very busy, but showed up well.  On the penalty kill, it successfully prevented Wisconsin from converting its lone power play of the night, while the Minnesota man-advantage scored on one of only two chances.

The OT loss snaps Minnesota’s five game winning streak, but extends its streak of games with a point to 8.

After a break next weekend, Minnesota will return to the ice for another home series Oct. 21-22. The Wilderness host Springfield for a pair of games starting at 7:15 p.m. both nights.