Wilderness Trim Ice Dogs in Series Opener

The long road traveled continues to treat the Minnesota Wilderness well.

Two second period goals and strong goaltending proved to be the winning recipe Friday night, as the Wilderness slipped past the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 2-1.  The win improves Minnesota’s road record to 4-0 and overall mark on the year to 11-5-2.  It’s also the third win in three games thus far on the team’s first trip of the season to Alaska.

Eddie Shepler and Beau Janzig notched the two Wilderness goals, both coming on shots from the right point. Shepler opened the scoring by redirecting a drive from Severi Sulonen into the net just 41 seconds into the middle frame.  Michael Quinn also assisted on the tally, which was Shepler’s 6th of the season.

Beau Janzig stretched the lead to 2-0 with 3:09 left in the period.  Noah Griswold and Joe Cesario helped set up Janzig when he fired a shot through traffic that beat Fairbanks goaltender Kayden Hargraves for his 4th of the year.  Griswold’s assist was his first point against his old team and in his former home building since being acquired by the Wilderness in a trade with Fairbanks on Sept. 15.

Meanwhile, Isak Posch earned the win in net.  Posch collected his second straight victory by making 22 saves on 23 shots to improve to 7-4-1.

The only goal Posch allowed came on a fluke play with just before the buzzer to end the 2nd period. With Fairbanks (12-8-2) on the power play, Cameron Ricotta intended to pass the puck through the slot, from the right circle to the left circle.  Instead, the puck struck Shepler’s stick, as the Wilderness forward was positioned in front of his own net, and ended up in the back of the goal with just over one second left in the frame.

For the game, Minnesota outshot the Ice Dogs 28-23, and generated 12 of those shots in the 2nd period.

On special teams, Minnesota’s penalty kill managed to limit Fairbanks, who holds the NAHL’s best power play percentage, just one goal on four chances.  The Wilderness power play was held scoreless on three chances.

The win marks only the 2nd regular season victory in Fairbanks for the Wilderness franchise (3rd if you include playoffs) of seven meetings between the two teams.  They’ll seek one more in their finale of the series and their trek to the 49th state Saturday night.  Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. AKDT