A 36-save performance from goaltender Isak Posch was not enough for the Minnesota Wilderness Friday night, as the team fell, 2-1 to the Chippewa Steel.
A first period goal from Bo Cosman gave the Wilderness a 1-0 lead that carried all the way to the 3rd period. Posch helped maintain that edge thanks to several splendid stops after facing 18 shots in the first period, and another 10 in the second, as Chippewa built a 28-15 lead in shots on goal through the first two periods.
Noah Grolnic scored to tie the game 4:37 into the 3rd period on a shot from the left face-off circle. That was followed by Tomas Trunda recording what ended up being the winning goal with 4:47 left when he pounced on his own rebound from the same left circle.
A furious Wilderness rally in the final minute was aided by a checking from behind penalty on Will Killoran that gave Minnesota a power play with 39 seconds left. With Posch pulled for an extra attacker, the Wilderness maintained pressure with a 6-on-4 advantage. With time running out, Steel goaltender Adam Gajan made three game-saving saves—first from Michael Quinn from just above the right circle, then Cosman on a rebound from directly in front, and another rebound from Kevin Marx Norén that Gajan somehow got a piece of as he was laying on his belly.
Chippewa (27-21-2) finished the game with a 38-22 shot advantage. Gajan, who is committed to Minnesota-Duluth, earned the win with 21 saves.
The only goal Gajan allowed came with 3:58 left in the opening period. Along the left boards, Minnesota (28-16-7) defenseman Max Wattvil applied a forecheck that forced the puck to be turned over to Donovan O’Neill. O’Neill then passed to Cosman at the left blue line who fired a shot that deflected off Gajan’s glove and slipped into the back of the net. That gave Cosman, a forward from Milton, GA, 10 goals on the season, and three since joining the Wilderness in February.
For a second straight game, Minnesota’s penalty kill was strong, denying the Steel on three opportunities with the man-advantage. The power play in the final minute was the only chance the Wilderness had in the game.
The loss snaps Minnesota’s 5-game winning streak and extends Chippewa’s streak to five games.
A rematch between the two squads is set for Saturday night at 7:15 in Cloquet.