CLOQUET, Minn. – Following their victory on Friday night over the Chippewa Steel, the Bruins couldn’t string together back-to-back wins as they were overtaken in the shootout by the Minnesota Wilderness, 2-1 on Saturday night.
For the third weekend in a row, Austin traveled to northern Minnesota for a battle with their division rivals. Coming into Saturday night’s game, the Bruins were coming off two consecutive losses at Northwoods Credit Union Arena including a 3-0 shutout last Saturday, and a 4-3 shootout loss on January 17, 2021.
Unlike those games, however, the Bruins got the game’s first goal. It took over 38 total minutes of gameplay, but Sutter Muzzatti netted his second goal of the season off a feed from John Lundy to crack the scoreless tie in favor of the Bruins, 1-0 with 1.52 remaining in the second period.
In the third, Minnesota came out strong but solid shot-blocking and goaltending from Tyler Shea helped maintain the Bruins narrow lead. As time was winding down in the third, a Noah Szretter holding penalty put the Bruins on the Kris Heichel Team Fairway Mortgage penalty kill for the fifth time on the night. Successful on their first four chances and their first 13 overall this season against the Wilderness, Minnesota finally broke the drought when Mitchell Allard scored his fourth goal of the season, only the second power-play goal of the season for the team, to make things 1-1.
The late goal prompted overtime for the two squads, and despite the Bruins being handed their fourth man-advantage of the game in the overtime period, they couldn’t solve Wilderness goaltender Jacob Zacharewicz, and for the third time in four meetings this season, the two clubs headed to the shootout. It took an extra round, but defenseman Grant Docter slammed home the game-winner despite Shea getting a huge chunk of the puck. Nevertheless, the shot rolled through the veteran goaltender and crossed the line earning the victory for the Wilderness, 2-1.
Tyler Shea was handed the loss in the game despite turning aside 34 of 35 shots he faced during regulation and overtime play, as well as stopping three of four in the shootout. Zacharewicz earned his first win in the NAHL by turning aside four Bruins shots in the shootout and 29 overall during gameplay. Austin went 0-for-4 on the Chad Thomas Thrivent Financial power-play, and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Up next for the Bruins, they begin a very busy month of February beginning this Wednesday with the first of three games against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. On Wednesday, February 3, the two teams will meet for the second time this season in Marshall, MN, before Austin welcomes the Ice Dogs to Riverside Arena on Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6. The games in Austin will be the first two meetings between the two teams since 2016. Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s games are EXTREMELY limited but available online at www.austinbruins.com/. Puck drop is scheduled for all three nights at 7:05, with broadcasts coming on HockeyTV and Power96 beginning at 6:55.