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Wilderness blitzed by hot Aberdeen


May 14, 2021

There’s a saying in the sports world that stats don’t lie. The Minnesota Wilderness found that out firsthand as red-hot Aberdeen flew into town for games Friday and Saturday. The Wings came into the weekend sporting a gaudy record, a potent offense, a stingy defense and they proved their mettle with a 7-1 win on Friday and a 7-2 rout on Saturday over the hometown Wilderness.

“Overall they have a very deep roster that plays extremely disciplined in their structure,” said Wilderness coach Jon Vallaincourt. “Their goalie, Sibell, has been excellent for them in net this season, which makes it difficult even if the team is struggling. We have had some success against them but overall they are a solidly built team.”

After the back-to-back wins, the Wings are now averaging 4.38 goals per game while giving up just 1.40 goals per game. Their record through 54 games is 49-4-1. On the other side of the ice the Wilderness are scoring 2.32 goals per game and giving up an average of 3.09 goals per contest. The Wilderness are now 22-27-4 on the season.

Friday night the Wilderness gave up a goal just 3:11 into the game, then responded in kind with a goal of their own. Will Traeger scored on assists from Mikol Sartor and Josh Bohlin at 4:47 to knot the score at 1-1. The Wings added another goal before the end of the first and two more in the second to take a 4-1 lead after two periods.

“I thought we played well early in both games with excellent pace and structure,” Vaillancourt said. “The difference was that we were not able to create and capitalize on second-chance opportunities around the net. When they had a second chance or offensive opportunity they capitalized on it.”

In the third period, the Wings doubled up on shots on goal and ended up throwing three pucks past Wilderness goalie Jake Zacharewicz to take the win.

Saturday night the Wilderness drew first blood when Gunnar Thoreson put a puck past the Wings goalie just 46 seconds into the period giving them a bit of life, but less than five minutes later the Wings got on the board with a goal by Jake Goldowski. Goldowski added another goal three minutes later, and finally a goal by Will Arquiett ended the first period scoring as the Wings built a 3-1 cushion.

In the second period the Wings added two more goals with a Wilderness goal by Grant Docter sandwiched in between, but a heartbreaking goal by Spencer Schneider came with just 29 seconds remaining in the second period as the lead was pushed to 6-1 in favor of Aberdeen.

Goldowski added his third goal of the game in the third period to pick up the hat tricks, an easy 7-2 victory and a sweep of the NAHL Central Division series. The Saturday game featured penalties galore and the Wings made the fourth-place Wilderness pay by going 3 for 7 on the power play.

Last Thursday night the Wilderness notched a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Magicians with goals coming from Bohlin and Donte Lawson. Bohlin’s goal was assisted by Joey Pierce and Traeger. Lawson’s goal was assisted by Landon Parker and Cloquet’s Christian Galatz. Both Wilderness goals came in the second period.

Zacharewicz made 25 saves on 26 shots to pick up the win in the nets for the Wilderness.

“Right now we hold the fourth-place spot, which puts us in the playoffs,” Vaillancourt said. “We have Austin and St. Cloud right behind us in the standings. Our guys know how important these last few games are for us to make sure we’re in the postseason.”

The Wilderness are back home Friday for Billet Appreciation Night and Saturday with Player Family Night. Both games against Bismarck start at 7:15 p.m. at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.


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