CLOQUET, MN – The Bruins battled back from a two goal deficit, but came up a goal short in the end as the Wilderness staved off elimination with a 3-2 win on Friday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in game three of the Central Division Semifinals.
Starting strong, the Bruins allowed the Wilderness to gain first period momentum when goaltender Alex Schilling and defenseman Jaden Shields got signals crossed behind the Bruins net, leading to Gino Lucia tapping in a gift-wrapped goal at 12:43 of the opening period. The Wilderness went up 2-0 when Luke Dow scored a fancy goal in the final 30 seconds during four-on-four. The Bruins pelted 16 first period shots on Wilderness tender Jacob Sibell, but trailed 2-0.
At 1:21 of the second period, the Bruins broke through when Valdemar Ahlberg stole the puck behind the Wilderness net and left it for Che Landikusic to rip home his first goal of the series. At 16:19 of the period, Ahlberg tied the game, deflecting a long shot by Jed Pietila that Levi Stauber also got a piece of. Ian Mageau rang a post in the final minute of the period, keeping the game tied heading to the third.
It was Wilderness defenseman Alex Spencer who broke the tie at 4:26 of the third period with a shot that somehow got behind Schilling, unleashed from the left point off a faceoff. From there, the Bruins chances were limited, but they put together a strong push with the goalie pulled that forced Sibell to make a few acrobatic saves and watch Evan Cholak put the puck in just seconds after the clock hit zero. Sibell stopped 38 of 40 for the Wilderness, while Schilling made 25 saves on 28 shots.
Game four is Saturday night at 7:05 in Cloquet.