AUSTIN, MN – Alex Mella entered Saturday night’s contest with two goals on the season. He exited the game with five. The Shattuck-St. Mary’s alumnus registered three goals to finish a five point weekend and help the Bruins (9-6-1-3) sweep the Wilderness (7-10-2-1) with a 5-3 home win.
The Wilderness flipped the first period script on the Bruins, who had scored 25 seconds into Friday’s game, by getting the early jump on Saturday. After a Bruins icing, Kosta Likourezos beat goaltender Alex Schilling in the low slot to give the visitors a 1-0 lead just 48 seconds into the period. A total of 29 shots were credited in the opening frame – 15 by the Wilderness, but the score remained 1-0 at the end of one.
The Bruins responded in the second and Mella scored his first of the night to tie the game at 2:04, a wrist shot from the left-wing circle off the glove of goaltender Ryan Fanti and in. Just over two minutes later, Travis Kothenbeutel got a stick on a point shot from Anthony Stark and tipped it past Fanti to give the Bruins the lead. The quick strikes caused Wilderness head coach Tim Madsen to use his timeout. The offense kept flowing at 7:27 of the period when Kothenbeutel raced down a loose puck and set up Andy Willis to make it 3-1. Fanti was replaced in goal by Trevor Micucci. The Wilderness answered right back, however, when Ben Ward slipped one past Schilling less than a minute later off a scramble in front of the net. Perhaps the most important goal of the game came with 51 seconds remaining in the second period. The Wilderness took two penalties at 18:38, including a five-minute spearing infraction on defenseman Nikolai Lyssogor, giving the Bruins a two-man advantage. Mella ripped off his second goal of the game, taking a pass from Jaden Shields and giving the Bruins a 4-2 lead at the end of two periods.
The Wilderness again cut the deficit to one when Ashton Altmann scored his first goal of the season at 6:13 of the third, a long shot that got between Schilling’s pads. Mella would complete the hat trick, however, with the insurance tally at 14:42, on a nice setup by new linemate Xander Lamppa. The Wilderness pulled their goaltender with over two minutes remaining, but 5-3 held up as the final score.
Schilling made 27 saves to earn his fourth win, while Micucci was saddled with the loss, despite allowing only two of the five goals.
The Bruins will host the Coulee Region Chill on Friday night, beginning another home-and-home series. The first 200 fans through the door wearing Bruins gear will receive a collectible mini-stick, courtesy of First Farmers and Merchants Bank. It is also MS Awareness Night. The puck drops at 7:05.