After scoring only five goals in their last four games, one could have the idea that the Minnesota Wilderness had lost their scoring touch.
Those fears were put to rest Saturday night.
In their first game in another team’s home rink in the 2022-23 campaign, the Wilderness set a new road record for goals in a single game, and a new all-time franchise record for margin of victory, blanking the St. Cloud Norsemen, 9-0, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Seven different players lit the lamp for Minnesota. Gunnar Thoreson and Michael Quinn led the offensive charge with both scoring twice. Thoreson added two assists for a four-point night, while Quinn added one helper for three points in the game.
Adding single goals were Eddie Shepler, Cole Gordon, Hunter Bulger, Oliver Stumpel and Luke Jech. Also credit two assists for Stumpel (for a 3-point game) along with Severi Sulonen and Gustav Ozolins.
Single assists were recorded by Reid Daavettila, Blake Stafford (his first Jr. A point), Noah Griswold, Adam Johnson, and Kevin Marx Noren.
In goal, Konrad Kausch denied St. Cloud on all 16 of their shots in recording his first shutout of the season, and third in his Wilderness career, to improve to 3-1-1 in 2022-23.
It was also a big night for special teams, as the Wilderness went for 3-for-6 on the power play and kept the Norsemen (6-7-1) scoreless on eight opportunities. Minnesota (8-5-2) lit the lamp on numerous special teams situations: 5-on-4, 5-on-3, short-handed, 4-on-4 and two empty net goals.
Thoreson kicked off the scoring fest with a power play goal just 3:27 into the game, when he fired in a rebound from the bottom of the left circle past St. Cloud staring netminder Tomas Bolo. Shepler and Quinn added to the first period totals to make the score 3-0 going into the 2nd period.
Quinn then added his second goal on the power play just 44 seconds into the middle frame on a blast from the top of the left circle. Thoreson’s second tally came on a 4-on-4 with 7:50 left in the 2nd as he beat relief netminder Ethan Dahlmeir on a breakaway, and that was followed by a scrum in front of the Norsemen net that resulted in Gordon’s goal just 2:24 later.
With his team down 6-0, Norsemen head coach Corey Millen tried to mount a comeback by pulling his netminder for an extra attacker while the game was still in the 2nd period. It was with Dahlmeir on the bench with St. Cloud on the power play when Bulger notched his first goal in nine games with the Wilderness with 4:41 remaining in the 2nd when he fired the puck in from just beyond the center line.
An empty-netter from Stumpel and Jech’s tally on a two-man advantage completed the scoring for Minnesota in the 3rd period. The 3-goal power play performance is a team-high for the season, and it snapped a season-high 3-game drought where it failed to score on the man-advantage.
Tonight’s game also marked the second time in franchise history where it registered nine goals in a single game—the first being October 3, 2015, at home vs. Kenai River.
The game did have its drawbacks. Marx Noren was called for checking from behind in the 2nd period in which he was also issued a game misconduct, and Quinn was given a 10-minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct in the final period.
St. Cloud’s Tyler Dysart also was given a game misconduct when he was called for spearing late in the 3rd.
The Norsemen netminders of Bolo and Dahlmeir combined for 20 saves on 27 shots. Bolo took the loss to see his record fall to 3-4 on the season.
Minnesota next embarks on its first trip of this season to Alaska. The Wilderness will venture to Kenai River for a Nov. 5 meeting with the Brown Bears, and that will be followed with a game in Anchorage to take on the Wolverines the following day. They then head to Fairbanks for a pair of games Nov. 11-12.