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Steel flurry makes for miserable Wilderness weekend

The Chippewa Steel had goals from six players and were backed by stellar goaltending Saturday night, as they handed the Minnesota Wilderness their third straight defeat, 6-1, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.

Croix Kochendorfer stopped 39 of 40 Wilderness shots, including all 17 shots he faced in the first period, to secure his seventh win of the season.

Ethan Janda opened the scoring for Chippewa early in the first when he was able to jam in a rebound past Jacob Zacharewicz at the 3:06 mark.

The Steel made it 2-0 early in the second when Jax Schauer scored at 2:30. The Wilderness responded quickly when Gunnar Thoreson scored his eighth of the season just 10 seconds later to make it 2-1.

The Wilderness had a number of chances to even the score through the remainder of the second and throughout the third period, including several on the power play, but were continually stymied by Kochendorfer.

The Steel, meanwhile, managed to extend their lead when Ethan Benz scored with 6:01 left in the final frame. That was followed by three more Steel goals from Joe Kelly, Jack Brown and Matthew Brille to seal the victory.

The Wilderness finished 0 for 6 on the power play, but were solid on the penalty kill, denying the Steel on all three of their opportunities, including 1:47 of a two-man advantage in the first period.

With the win, Chippewa swept the two-game home and home series, and improved to 14-11-1 on the season. The loss drops the Wilderness record to 13-10-1.

Minnesota heads on the road next weekend for two games against Fairbanks in Marshall, Minnesota, Dec. 3-4. They’ll return home for a game Friday, Dec. 10, vs. Corey Millen’s St. Cloud team.