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Wilderness slip into second

The Minnesota Wilderness returned from their holiday break, slipping from first place in their division after a home split with Alaska’s Kenai River.

The Wilderness won 4-3 on Friday, coming back from 3-1 down to win in a shootout. The next night, the Brown Bears gained the shootout win, following a 0-0 regulation and overtime. Isak Posch made 31 shots in the shutout, but surrendered a pair of shootout tallies to Minnesota’s one, giving Kenai River the win.

The split left the Wilderness at 19-10-1 on the season, with their 42 points trailing the North American Hockey League’s Midwest Division leader Fairbanks (43). Kenai River (40) is in third, followed by Janesville (39), Chippewa (36), Wisconsin and Anchorage (34 each), and Springfield (26).

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period on Friday, the Wilderness got goals from Joe Cesario, his 12th, and Donovan O’Neil to tie the time. O’Neil’s goal came with 57 seconds left in the game and an extra attacker on the ice after Minnesota pulled Posch from the net. It was the Wilderness’ first goal of the season with an extra attacker. Posch made 21 saves in the win.

The Wilderness are in Eagle River, Wisconsin for a pair of games Friday and Saturday against the Wisconsin Windigo. That series is followed by a home-and-home with the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel on Jan. 20-21, playing first in Chippewa Falls before a 7:15 p.m. start on Jan. 21 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.