From the La Crosse Tribune
CLOQUET, Minn. — Coulee Region Chill defenseman Joe Rutkowski didn’t have a goal in 47 games during the regular season.
Apparently he was just waiting for the perfect time.
Rutkowski scored less than three minutes into the third period to lift the Chill to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wilderness Friday night at the Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
“It was a snipe,” Chill coach AJ Degenhardt said of his first-year defenseman’s first career goal, who scored farside off a leave from Isaac Theisen. “It was a great shot for him.”
Dominik Florian gave the Chill some insurance in the final minute when he buried a shot in an empty net for just their second win over the Wilderness this season.
“We played solid tonight,” Degenhardt said. “We did what we needed to win. We really only made a few mistakes that they were able to take advantage of.”
Adam Carlson stopped 22 shots to help the Chill (29-23-9) win their first postseason game since 2011.
Coulee Region’s leading scorer Adam Lovick scored in the first period but the Wilderness (39-16-6) responded six minutes later to knot the score up at 1-1.
Jackson Charlesworth scored for the Chill in the second period to make it 2-1 but Austin Miller buried a shot with just five seconds to go in the second to tie it up before the intermission.
But Rutkowski’s timely goal helped Coulee Region hand the Wilderness just their seventh home loss of the season. Lovick, a Division I Bemidji State recruit, also had two assists to finish with a game-high three points.
“It’s really been a month and a half since we’ve been playing a meaningful game,” Degenhardt said of the Chill, who locked up a postseason spot back in February. “To be in this situation, it was nice to see them play a lot harder than they have been playing.”