The Minnesota Wilderness had another strong performance in net and scored once in each period Sunday night in a 3-1 victory over the Anchorage Wolverines.
Konrad Kausch registered his second consecutive victory with 28 saves on 29 shots with his only goal against coming 11 seconds into the third period by David Tolan. The win improves Kausch’s record to 4-1-1 on the season.
Offensively, Hunter Bulger led the Wilderness with one goal and one assist.
Minnesota managed only 15 shots for the game but was successful in capitalizing on opportunities in key situations.
The first chance came on a goalmouth scramble in front of the Wolverine net. With 5:45 left in the first frame, Hunter Bulger slammed in a rebound on a play set up by Gustav Ozolins when he cycled the puck behind the cage. Ozolins took the initial shot, which was denied by Wolverine goaltender Ben Dardis along with two more from Joe Cesario, before Bulger finally fired it into the back of the net for his 3rd tally of the season.
That 1-0 lead held through the end of the first twenty minutes. Anchorage (8-8-4) finished the period holding a razor thin 8-7 lead in shots on goal. They would widen that margin considerably when it outshot the Wilderness (10-5-2) by a 15-4 count in period 2.
That did not deter Minnesota, as Kausch denied all Wolverine shots, and the team also managed to extend its lead. With 7:32 remaining, Minnesota converted on the game’s first power play when Charlie Erickson pounced on a rebound that slipped to the left of Dardis when he was positioned near the top of his goal crease. Erickson had a lot of net to shoot at as he was able to score his first goal of the season, with assists coming from Ren Morque and Bulger.
Meanwhile, Kausch was aided by tremendous defense that kept the vast majority of Anchorage shots coming from the perimeter, and with little traffic in front of the net. His most impressive stop came on a one timer from the bottom of the right circle with 1:25 left in the 2nd from Fedya Nikolayenya. The Duluth native made the save after maneuvering swiftly from his right to left post as he monitored a cross ice pass that fed the puck to Nikolayenya.
After Anchorage got on the board early in the 3rd to cut the Wilderness to 2-1, Minnesota would answer just 5 minutes later. Cole Gordon scored on wraparound for his 5th goal of the season with an assist from Reid Daavettila.
Officials were relatively quiet for most of the game, awarding the two teams a combined total of three power plays. Minnesota would finish with two, scoring on one while Anchorage was unsuccessful in its only chance which came with 2:21 remaining in the final period.
The win extends Minnesota’s winning streak to three games, which is entirely made up of the team’s first three official road games of the season. It also marks a 2-0 start to its first Alaska trip of 2022-23 after Saturday night’s 2-1 victory at Kenai River.
The next leg of the road trip will lead to Fairbanks, AK. Minnesota will take on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in a 2-game series November 11-12.
Stümpel update: The Wilderness released the following statement on social media regarding the injury forward Oliver Stümpel suffered in Saturday night’s contest:
Oliver Stümpel left last night’s game in the 2nd period after an upper body injury. He was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital, where he was examined and found to have no substantial injuries. He was released last night and is back with his team. He will be further evaluated when the team returns to Minnesota. The Wilderness would like to thank team Athletic Trainer Jarret Byrnes, Kenai Fire Department and EMS, as well as the staff at Central Peninsula Hospital for their great work with Oliver.