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Quick goal nets OT win for Wilderness

After missing 13 games due to injury, Minnesota Wilderness forward Adam Johnson returned to the lineup in style Friday in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Johnson, of Mahtomedi, Minnesota, scored the game-winning goal 47 seconds into overtime to defeat the Chippewa Steel, 4-3.

The goal marked the end of a back-and-forth battle, which saw the Steel score twice in the opening period for the contest’s first lead, only to see the Wilderness score three consecutive goals to go in front, a team news release said. Chippewa (15-12-3) then notched a tying goal early in the third period that forced overtime.

Gustavs Ozolins, of Riga, Latvia, helped set up the game-winner when he carried the puck into the offensive zone, where it eventually made its way to Johnson all alone in the right circle. Johnson then whipped the puck past goaltender Nathan Mach on the stick side for the veteran forward’s seventh goal of the season.

In goal for Minnesota, Nick Erickson, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, made 24 saves on 27 shots for his first road victory of the campaign and improved his record to 6-2.

The Wilderness (19-9-3) also got goals from Colton Nestler, Dylan Moore — an affiliated player, from the Chicago Reapers AAA program, who intercepted a clearing pass in the offensive zone and struck for his first junior A goal in his first junior A game — and a breakaway goal by Daniel Astopovich, his eighth of the season.

The Wilderness outshot the Steel, 40-27.

By earning the victory, Minnesota began its holiday break on a positive note. The Midwest Division-leading Wilderness (41 points) are off until they host third-place Janesville Jets (37 points) in a two-game series at Northwoods Credit Union Arena on Dec. 30-31.