Wilderness capture the Robertson Cup

by John Peterson


18 hours after stealing Game 1 of the Robertson Cup Finals in quadruple overtime, the Minnesota Wilderness followed it up with a 4-0 win Saturday night over the Austin Bruins at Riverside Arena to become the first team in state history to win the NAHL’s prized trophy.

For the second straight night, the Bruins and Wilderness played a physical first period to a scoreless tie. Austin outshot Minnesota 9-6 in the frame, but Wilderness goalie Brock Kautz (Rochester, MN) was on his game early again. Jake Kielly (Eden Prairie, MN) started for the Bruins and was also tested early, but passed the test.

As they did late in the second period Friday night, the Wilderness notched the game’s first goal Saturday towards the end of the middle stanza. Minnesota entered the Austin zone on a 4-on-2 and Ian Mansfield (Lakewood, CO) carried the puck through the slot from circle-to-circle and snapped a quick shot under the crossbar at 15:52 of the period. Then on a rebound with 2:01 left in the frame, Brett Heikkila (Marquette, MI) batted in a rebound past Kielly to give the Wilderness a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

While the Bruins desperately tried to claw back into the game in the third, Kautz stood tall in preserving the shutout. He got some insurance from Heikkila, who scored his second of the night with 3:36 to play, and Niklas Lehtimake (Klukainen, Finland), who added an empty-netter. Kautz stopped all 26 Bruins shots in the shutout, and 67 of 68 attempts in the ten periods of the two-game series. Kielly made 20 saves in the loss.

The Bruins finish runners-up for the Robertson Cup a second consecutive year, but the organization finishes the 2014-15 campaign with a third straight Central Division regular season title, and its second consecutive Central Cup for winning the division’s playoff championship.