Wilderness Snap 5-Game Losing Skid

Sawyer Scholl scored twice and Isak Posch turned aside 18 shots to lead the Minnesota Wilderness to a 4-1 victory over the Springfield Jr. Blues Saturday night.  The win snaps a season-high 5-game losing streak and splits a two-game weekend series.

After giving up two goals on the penalty kill Friday night plus one short-handed in a 5-3 loss, Minnesota executed a more disciplined game plan and limited its mistakes.  The Wilderness, the NAHL’s least penalized team averaging less than 11 minutes in the box per game, was whistled for just one penalty, and managed to kill Springfield’s lone power-play opportunity.  Minnesota also followed Friday night’s 0-for-4 power play performance by going 1-for-3 on the man-advantage.

A scoreless first period was highlighted by both teams unable to capitalize on power plays despite both having scoring chances.  The Jr. Blues had the first crack when Eddie Shepler was called for hooking.  In that 2-minute span, Posch executed his biggest save of the game when he denied Springfield with an outstretched right leg.

Minnesota also brought on constant pressure on its first chance with the man advantage, but stellar netminding from Jr. Blues goaltender Aksel Reid and a shot that rung off the crossbar ensured the game would remain scoreless for the time being.

The Wilderness broke a 0-0 tie toward the middle of the 2nd period.  Scholl opened the scoring after intercepting an errant backhand pass at center ice, swooped into the Springfield zone and, from the right face-off dot, directed the puck between Reid’s left arm and the post for an unassisted goal—his third of the season in just 7 games.

The one-goal Minnesota lead would carry to the 3rd before Springfield scored its lone goal.  Tyler Borgula tied the game when he backhanded in a rebound past Posch from just below the right circle 2:17 into the final frame.

The tie would only last a few minutes. After a holding penalty sent Nikita Nikora to the box at 5:16, the Wilderness wasted little time to regain the lead and register what ended up as the game-winner.  A face-off in the left circle of the Jr. Blues zone led to the two centerman tying each other up, Oliver Stümpel then jumped in and jabbed the puck to the  left boards for Michael Quinn, who quickly relayed the puck to Gustavs Ozolins in the opposite circle.  Ozolins then rocketed a one-timer past Reid’s stick-side for his 3rd tally of the season at 5:49.

An insurance goal would come with 3:08 left in the game when Cole Gordon held up a clearing attempt and fired in a shot from the right circle.  Shepler and Reid Daavettila assisted on Gordon’s 8th of the campaign.

With 46 seconds remaining, the victory was sealed when Scholl notched his second of the game with the Jr. Blue net empty on a drive from just beyond the Springfield blue line.

The three third period tallies were part of an effort where Minnesota (24-15-7) outshot Springfield (21-23-1) by an 11-4 count.  For the game, the Wilderness finished with a 30-19 shot advantage.

The Wilderness next will embark on its final regular season visit to Alaska.  There, it will first take on the Kenai River Brown Bears for a pair of games March 3-4, followed by two games the following weekend at the Anchorage Wolverines.