Buzzer Beater Goal Lifts Wilderness Past Steel

A late 3rd period rush paid off for the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday night, when Kevin Marx Norén swatted in a rebound as time expired to beat the Chippewa Steel, 4-3.

Gunnar Thoreson helped set up the winning goal when he skated into the Chippewa zone on the left side.  Thoreson fired a shot that slipped off goaltender Carter Wishart’s glove, and the puck landed in front of the net.  In pursuit of the rebound, Charlie Erickson collided with a defender, but following him was Marx Norén who threw it past Wishart on the glove side as the clock struck 0:00.

That ended a wild game where the Wilderness (20-12-4) held the lead three times through the first two periods, only to see the Steel (17-15-2) claw back to tie each time.  Cole Gordon gave Minnesota the game’s first lead just 2:12 into the contest.  The veteran forward scored on his team’s first shot on goal when he fired the puck in just to the left of the Steel net when it slipped just between the netminder and the left post.  Hunter Bulger and Joe Guentzel assisted on Gordon’s 6th of the season.

That shot was recorded as the only shot on goal for Minnesota in the opening period, compared to 10 on Minnesota goaltender Isak Posch, who kept the Steel (17-15-off the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes. However, the Steel did not wait long to even the score in the second period, when J.J. Grainda scored to make it 1-1 just 15 seconds into the frame.

Eddie Shepler made the score 2-1 1:01 later when he fired in a rebound on a drive from the blue line by Severi Sulonen for Shepler’s 10th of the season. That was also short-lived when Chippewa answered with a goal from Sam Rice, 7:41 into the 2nd.

At 12:18 of the middle period, the Wilderness made it 3-2 on a pretty passing play featuring Joe Cesario and Marx Norén.  Skating in on the right side, Cesario set up Marx Norén with a centering feed that was followed by a swift snap shot that darted past Wishart on his glove side. Sam Frandina followed that with a power play goal to even the game at 3, just over 1 minute later.

The two squads remained scoreless the rest of the way until the Wilderness’ heroics in the final seconds. Replay from the feed on confirmed the puck on the game-winning shot entered the net with 0.3 left on the clock.

With two goals in the contest, Marx Norén stretched his team-leading total to 17 on the season, which now includes 4 game-winners.

On the power play, the Wilderness continues to struggle, failing to score on four chances, including one in the 2nd period where it was the beneficiary of a double-minor.  The Wilderness has now been blanked on its last 17 opportunities with the man-advantage.

On the penalty kill, it kept Chippewa off the scoreboard on four of five chances, including one opportunity late in the 3rd when Chippewa had pressure in the Wilderness zone for almost the entirety of a two-minute minor.

Posch made several key saves in the contest as he improved his record to 13-9-3 stopping 30 of 33 shots.  Chippewa outshot Minnesota, 33-21.

The win snapped a 3-game winless streak for the Wilderness which began January 7.

Game 2 of the weekend home-and-home series will be Saturday night in Cloquet at 7:15.