The Minnesota Wilderness and Kenai River Brown Bears battled through 60 minutes of regulation, and 5 minutes of overtime Saturday without either team sending the puck into the back of either team’s net. The game was finally decided in a shootout, when the Brown Bears outscored the Wilderness 2-1, to earn the victory and force a split in the two-game weekend series.
Ryan Finch and Hunter Newhouse stretched twine in the shootout’s 2nd and 3rd rounds for Kenai, and goaltender Nils Wallstrom denied Wilderness forward Gunnar Thoreson’s 3rd round attempt to extend the shootout into extra rounds. Kevin Marx Noren recorded Minnesota’s lone shootout goal in round 2 after Oliver Stümpel failed to score in round 1.
Wallstrom and Wilderness goaltender Isak Posch each earned shutouts for keeping the game scoreless through regulation and overtime. It’s the third shutout of the season for both netminders — Posch stopped 31 shots, while Wallstrom turned aside 25.
There was a moment in the 2nd period when it appeared Minnesota had scored due to a goalmouth scrum. The red light behind the Kenai net was turned on and the Wilderness celebrated, but the officials waved it off indicating they had thought Wallstrom had contained the puck.
On special teams, the Wilderness (19-10-4) kept Kenai (19-14-2) scoreless on four power play chances—ending a streak of two straight games where its penalty kill allowed more than one goal. On the power play, Minnesota finished 0 for 3.
The game follows Friday night’s contest which also ended in a shootout—this time with Minnesota winning 4-3. With each team winning beyond regulation in the series, both squads earned 3 points on the weekend.
By only gaining one point in the shootout loss, the Wilderness ended up slipping out of first place in the Midwest Division. Minnesota now sits in in 2nd place, one point behind Fairbanks after the Ice Dogs won its Saturday night game vs. Springfield.
The Wilderness will get a chance to bounce back next weekend when it makes the franchise’s first visit to Eagle River, WI. There, they will take on the Wisconsin Windigo in a two-game series beginning Friday night.