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Wilderness stay on top

Victories in hockey sometimes can be Rembrandt-like pieces of artwork. Other times,

they can remind you of a pig sty.

Saturday night's game in Cloquet between the Minnesota Wilderness and Wisconsin Windigo was definitely more like the latter. But the great thing about hockey is that winning either way counts the same, a team news release said. And the Wilderness got a weekend sweep.

The Wilderness pried out a 2-1 shootout victory that was driven by stout goaltending from Adam Prokop. Through regulation and five minutes of overtime, the second-year Junior A veteran stopped 38 of 39 Windigo shots and then made five more saves over six shootout rounds. He was aided by a defense that was tenacious in blocking Windigo shots and getting sticks in the way of passing lanes.

"It was a gutsy win. The boys did whatever it took to keep the puck out of the net," said head coach Colten St. Clair. "Even though it wasn't the prettiest of wins, the boys stuck together like a family and didn't break."

Prokop shined brightest in the third period when he held off a high-powered Windigo offense that outshot the Wilderness 20-4. Late in regulation, the Wausau, Wisconsin native stopped NAHL leading goal-scorer Will Schumacher with a save at the post to Prokop's left, and then had to maneuver to deny Everett Pietila at the post to Prokop's right on a rebound chance.

For the game, Wisconsin outshot Minnesota, 39-21.

The two regulation time goals were scored during the second period, and both came on the power play. The Windigo took the game's first lead when Brayden Beahm slipped the puck between Prokop's left arm and the post with 3 minutes, 51 seconds left in the middle frame.

Ashton Dahms answered with a power-play goal with 8.4 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the game at 1. It was the Lakeville, Minnesota native's team-

leading 14th goal.

On Friday, the Wilderness won 4-1.

In sweeping the series over the second-place Windigo (11-8-3), Minnesota (14-6-2) built a four-point cushion atop the North American Hockey League's Midwest Division with 30 points to Wisconsin's 26.

Minnesota hosted the Chippewa Steel on Wednesday. The Wilderness are on the road at Janesville (Wisconsin) for games Friday and Saturday. The third-place Jets had 24 points entering the weekend.

 
 
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