Wilderness Drops Series Opener to Windigo

The Wisconsin Windigo scored three third period goals Friday night to break open a tie game en route to a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wilderness.

The Wilderness was led by Cole Gordon who finished with one goal and one assist.  Gordon and Nicolas Haviar each scored once as part of a 4-goal first period.  After Sam Jacobs put Wisconsin up 1-0 5:09 into the first period, Gordon tied the game just over 4 minutes later with his 7th of the season.  Noah Griswold and Donovan O’Neill assisted on the goal when they combined to direct the puck out of the Wilderness zone and across the Windigo blue line. Gordon then raced after the loose puck as it glided toward the Wisconsin goal, and reached it as it entered the slot. The veteran from Windsor, CO, then ripped a shot that zoomed under the pads of Wisconsin netminder Sam Beckford and into the back of the net.

Gordon then helped Haviar score to give Minnesota a brief lead. Charlie Erickson also assisted on the goal when he chased down a loose puck behind the Windigo net and quickly dealt a pass to the slot that Gordon nudged toward Haviar as he skated into the zone.  Haviar then rifled a wrist shot that beat Beckford on his glove side with 6:29 left in the first to make it 2-1 for Minnesota. It was the 4th goal of the season for Haviar, and his first with the Wilderness in his first game after being acquired from the New Mexico Ice Wolves.

That lead lasted until Max Martin tied it for Wisconsin with 55 seconds left in the opening frame. That was followed by a scoreless 2nd period, and the Windigo then regained the lead when Ben Anderson scored with 11:22 left in the third. Wisconsin added an insurance just over two minutes later from Chris Kernan, and Zach Burfoot completed the scoring with an empty netter with seven seconds left.

Minnesota goaltender Konrad Kausch took the loss making 28 saves on 32 shots.  The Wilderness outshot the Windigo by a 37-32 count.

Both teams were held scoreless on the power play.  Minnesota (23-13-5) finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, and its penalty kill kept Wisconsin (22-15-2) off the scoreboard on three chances.

Despite the loss, Minnesota remains in first place in the Midwest Division, thanks to 2nd place Fairbanks dropping its game vs. Janesville.  The Wilderness lead over the Ice Dogs continues to be a razor thin one point.

The Wilderness and Windigo will conclude their weekend series Saturday night in Cloquet. Puck drop is set for 7:15.