CLOQUET, MN – In a game the Bruins never led until the fifth round of a shootout, they rallied back from 3-0 and 5-3 deficits to top the Minnesota Wilderness 6-5 on Wednesday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. It was the Bruins’ second consecutive win as they began a busy two week schedule, in which they’ll play six games in eleven days.
Bruins starting goaltender Alex Schilling was shell-shocked as the Wilderness jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10:50 of the opening period. Six seconds into a Wilderness power play, Luke Dow’s shot from the left point trickled its way through Schilling’s equipment for the game’s first goal at 4:57. Two minutes later, Kosta Likourezos walked in on a 2-on-1 and ripped home another goal for 2-0 Wilderness lead. Schilling’s night would end when Gino Lucia beat him on a harmless looking wrist shot at 10:50.
The Bruins went to the power play at 15:02, and like the Wilderness, wasted little time as Sviatoslov Kuchynski came skating in to cash his first NAHL goal, a rebound from an off angle shot from Andy Willis. Lucia, who had just come out of the box, went right back in for tripping, leading to Willis scoring a goal of his own at 16:59 – a shot from the high slot set up by good puck retrieval and movement by Travis Kothenbeutel and Lane Krenzen. With just under a minute remaining in the period, Kothenbeutel tied the game, as Evan Cholak spotted him out of the corner and Kothenbeutel was given time and space to rip off a slap shot and make it 3-3 at the end of one period.
The second period was much less eventful than the first, as Isaac Kobienia’s power play goal at 1:40 turned out to be the only one of the frame. It wasn’t a pretty period for the Bruins, who were outshot 20-7, but Mads Sogaard, who had relieved Schilling, kept them in the game with several big saves, holding the score at 4-3.
The Wilderness reclaimed a multi-goal lead at 4:48 of the third when Nick Altmann made a nifty deflection past Sogaard to open up some breathing room. But the Wilderness got into more penalty trouble midway through, giving the Bruins a 5-on-3 in which they capitalized twice. At 9:30, Lane Krenzen blasted a one-timer that powered through Wilderness goaltender Trevor Micucci and rolled just over the goal line to make it a 5-4 game. Benito Posa’s first NAHL goal tied the game at 11:05, set up brilliantly by slick passing from Dante Zapata and Valdemar Ahlberg. The Bruins finished 4/5 on the power play in the game. A late penalty to Reggie Millette was killed off and the game advanced to 3-on-3 OT.
After a scoreless OT with five combined shots (3-2 Wilderness), the first eight shooters of the shootout were unable to score. Micucci denied Alex Mella, Andy Willis, and Lane Krenzen, while Travis Kothenbeutel hit the post. Sogaard stopped Luke Dow, Ben Ward, Kosta Likourezos, and Eric Gotz. Finally in the fifth round, Evan Cholak deked Micucci to his forehand and tucked a puck under the crossbar giving the Bruins the advantage. Gino Lucia answered, however with a backhand move on Sogaard. Next up, Dante Zapata took a page out of Lucia’s book and went up top with a backhand. Sogaard stopped defenseman Nick Anderson to end the game.
In all, Sogaard made 34 saves on 37 shots over the last half of the first period, plus the second, third, and overtime. He now has both Bruins wins. Micucci stopped 28 of 33 in the loss.
The Bruins return home this weekend to host the Aberdeen Wings on Friday and Saturday night at Riverside Arena. Saturday night is our annual Halloween costume contest – with the best adult and kid costume winning a Bruins 10 game pack. Both games begin at 7:05 PM.