Wilderness Offense Breaks Out in Game 3 Win

The Minnesota Wilderness scored goals even strength, on the power play and short-handed Saturday night en route to a 5-1 victory over the Wisconsin Windigo in game 3 of the Midwest Division finals.  The win moves Minnesota back in front in the best-of-five series 2 games to 1.

Michael Quinn scored twice and added an assist to lead the offensive charge.  Also finishing with multiple points were Kevin Marx Norén and Oliver Stümpel, who both posted a goal and assist, and Sawyer Scholl, who recorded two assists.

In goal, Isak Posch won for the fifth time in six playoff starts turning aside 29 Windigo shots.  The Wilderness outshot Wisconsin by a 34-30 count.

Minnesota opened the scoring midway through the opening period with goals 2:02 apart to build its first 2-goal lead of round 2. Stümpel registered his first of the playoffs after receiving a tape-to-tape centering pass by Marx Norén to make it 1-0 with 9:40 left.  That was followed by Ashton Dahms who deposited his first playoff goal on a wraparound with 9:40 left.

Quinn and Donovan O’Neill helped set up the Dahms’ scoring play.  After receiving a pass from Quinn along the right boards, Quinn delivered a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone that connected with Dahms along the left wing wall.

The Windigo managed to make that 2-goal advantage short-lived when it responded just 12 seconds later.  Ben Anderson made it 2-1 when his shot from the extended goal line just slipped in underneath Posch’s arm. Sam Groebner and Frank Jenkins assisted on Anderson’s second red-lighter of the playoffs.

The Wilderness ended up regaining that 2-goal lead and then some.  Minnesota ended the 2nd period with a 4-1 advantage beginning with Quinn’s first goal that could be characterized as proof the hockey God’s were smiling on the Wilderness on this night.

With the Windigo on the power play, Scholl won a face-off in Minnesota’s defensive zone in the circle to the left of Posch. Scholl sent the puck back to Gustav Ozolins who found Quinn for what appeared to be a routine attempt to clear the puck to help kill the penalty.  Quinn skated to his right and eyed the corner in the Windigo zone, which drew goaltender Max Beckford out of his net in the direction he expected the puck to go.  Instead, Quinn sent the rubber biscuit off the high glass where it caught a stanchion that angled it toward the net, and it slipped into the Windigo goal just within the right post and beyond Beckford’s reach as he desperately attempted to make the save.

That was Quinn’s first goal of the game and second of the playoffs, which came with 9:11 left in the middle frame.

The Wilderness tacked on one more before the period was over thanks to Marx Norén.

Minnesota’s leading regular season goal scorer broke through with his first tally of round 2, and 4th of the post-season when he whipped a shot from the slot past Beckford with 6:24 remaining.  Bo Cosman assisted on the power play marker, allowing him to extend an assist streak to three games.

The Wilderness completed the scoring with Quinn’s 2nd of the game, and 3rd of the playoffs in the third period. After Stümpel cycled the puck to Wattvil at the right point, Wattvil then sent it to Quinn on the left side who fired a shot that went in just beneath the cross bar at the 6:32 mark.

That goal led to the Windigo replacing Beckford in net with Gavin Moffatt, who finished the contest stopping all five shots he faced.

Both teams were each penalized a series-high eight times.  On the power play, Minnesota finished one-for-five, with Marx Norén’s goal becoming the first to beat Wisconsin’s penalty kill in the post-season.  The Wilderness PK kept the Windigo scoreless on four chances.

Minnesota will get two chances to close out the series, with the first coming Saturday night in Cloquet.  Game 4 is set for 7:15 p.m.  A victory for the Wilderness would allow it to claim its first division playoff title since 2015.

If the Windigo can bounce back to tie, the series will return to Eagle River, WI, for game 5 Sunday night.