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Team keeps pace, goes 5-2 on road

The Minnesota Wilderness followed a dramatic road win Friday with a trip-ending 5-2 loss Saturday in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

The Wilderness got Gustavs Ozolins’ first goal at the perfect time in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Steel on Nov. 18. The 19-year-old from Riga, Latvia broke a 3-3 tie with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining in the extra period. Ozolins took a pass and weaved to the slot before “roofing” the game-winning shot over goaltender Adam Gajan, a Wilderness game account said.

Joe Cesario scored twice for Minnesota, including 1:17 into the game, and to break a 2-2 tie. Goalie Isak Posch made 38 saves on 41 shots for the win. Gunnar Thoreson added his third goal of the season.

With the goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker, Chippewa’s Matthew Brille tied the game for the home team with 2:17 left in the third frame, requiring Ozolins’ heroics later on.

The week-ending loss for Minnesota (12-7-2) put an end to a seven-game road swing that started in Alaska. The Wilderness finished the stretch of games with a 5-2 record.

In the Nov. 19 loss, Minnesota got two goals from defenseman Ren Morque. But Chippewa broke a 1-all tie by scoring four straight times.

The Steel dominated the final two periods, outshooting the Wilderness, 31-9.

Chippewa (13-8-1) finished with 40 shots to 28 for Minnesota. With 27 points, the Steel lead the Wilderness (26) by a point in the tightly packed Midwest Division standings currently led by Kenai River and Fairbanks (31 points each).

The Steel were in Cloquet on Wednesday for a game too late to make the Pine Knot deadline. It was the start of four straight at home for Minnesota. The Janesville Jets will be in town Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25-26 for games at 7:15 p.m. On Dec. 2, Minnesota welcomes the St. Cloud Norsemen for a 7:15 p.m. one-and-done before the start of the holiday season break.

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