Wilderness advance to meet Windigo in second round
May 5, 2023
An unlikely goal-scorer lifted the Minnesota Wilderness to a playoff sweep last weekend, closing out the Kenai River Brown Bears in Soldotna, Alaska, with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 3 of their opening-round playoff series.
Michael Quinn’s goal 51 seconds into overtime catapulted the Wilderness into a best-of-five Midwest Division final against the regular season champion Wisconsin Windigo starting this week.
“The puck kind of got locked up on the draw, kind of squirted out, and (I) just got to the puck, made a move, and just kind of blacked out from there,” said Quinn, a defensemen from St. Louis, who added his series clincher “might be the biggest goal of my career.”
“[It’s] not that often a ‘D’ gets that close to the net,” Quinn said in a team news release. “It was exciting.”
Goalie Isak Posch stopped 35 of 36 Kenai River shots to help fight off the Brown Bears. The Wilderness, which had taken a 2-0 lead in the series with wins in Cloquet, managed only 21 shots in Game 3.
Minnesota forward Kevin Marx Norén tied the game at 1-all in the second period, getting his third goal of the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup playoffs, and sixth in the past five games. He leads the Wilderness with 37 total goals on the season.
Minnesota will now travel to Eagle River, Wisconsin, where the Wilderness will meet the one team that’s bothered it more than any other. In 10 games against the Wisconsin Windigo this season, the Wilderness are 2-8, having been outscored 31-22 in the season series. The Wilderness had been on an eight-game slide against the Windigo until a 3-2 win in the teams’ last meeting April 7.
Game 1 of the Midwest Division final will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Eagle River Sports Arena, followed by Game 2 at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6.
Game 3 will return to Cloquet and Northwoods Credit Union Arena for a 7:15 p.m. start on May 12. Game 4 (if necessary) would be 6 p.m. May 13 in Cloquet. Game 5 (if necessary) would return to Eagle River on May 14 for a 6 p.m. start.