For the second time in three games, the Minnesota Wilderness could not protect a 3-goal lead, and fell in overtime to the Wisconsin Windigo Saturday night, 6-5.
Cole Mickel’s first goal of the season with 16 seconds left in overtime gave the Windigo it’s seventh consecutive win against Minnesota and extended its hold on first place in the Midwest Division to two points.
The Wilderness held leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Wisconsin began to take control of the game. Sawyer Scholl and Gunnar Thoreson led the way offensively for Minnesota, each recording one goal and one assist. Gustavs Ozolins and Max Wattvil also contributed with two assists. After Michael Quinn scored on a one-timer 8:40 into the opening period, Scholl made it 2-0 on a breakaway with 2:36 left in the frame. Adam Johnson would extend the lead just 8 seconds later when he broke in and beat Windigo netminder Gavin Moffat on a shot from the right face-off circle.
Wisconsin would finally get on the board when Luke Levandowski notched the first of his two goals on the night 11:21 into the 2nd, but the Wilderness wasted little time in restoring its 3-goal lead. While on the power play, Kevin Marx Norén scored his team-leading 22nd of the season on a shot from the right circle, just 2:43 after Wisconsin first lit the lamp.
Four consecutive Windigo goals would follow. Wisconsin picked up three tallies over a 2:57 span from Luke Baker, Frank Jenkins (on the power play) and a tying goal from Levandowski with 28 seconds left in the middle frame to make it 4-4.
Daniil Dolzhenko gave the Windigo its first lead of the night on a 5-on-3 power play 4:59 into the 3rd period. The goal came after penalties to Johnson, who was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking, and goaltender Isak Posch. The officials whistled Posch for delay-of-game, after the net was dislodged in the midst of a goal-mouth scramble where it had appeared Wisconsin had scored a goal.
The Wilderness got one more to tie the game, thanks to Thoreson who redirected Ozolins’ blast from the top of the left circle past Moffatt to make it 5-5 with 3:32 left in regulation.
Posch finished the game with 26 saves on 32 shots, including one in overtime where he denied Levandowski on a breakaway. Both teams finished the game with 32 shots on goal.
On special teams, the Windigo scored twice on three power play chances, while the Wilderness connected once on four of its chances with the extra man.
Saturday night’s game was similar to the contest between the same two teams on Feb. 4 in Cloquet, which was the first time the Windigo came back from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Wilderness. That game finished 4-3 in a shootout.
Minnesota next returns home for a 2-game series Feb. 24th and 25th versus the Springfield Jr. Blues. Puck drop both nights at Northwoods Credit Union Arena is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.