Coulee Region Chill 6, Minnesota Wilderness 3
The first two periods of Thursday night’s contest in La Crosse was back and forth between the two Midwest Division rivals. Alex Falconer (Nico Luka, Joey Sofo assisted) was the only one to convert on a shot in the 1st as the Chill took a 1-0 lead into the 2nd.
If you go by just the shots you’d say the Wilderness dominated the 2nd period and you’d be right. The defending Robertson Cup Champions outshot the Chill 21-6 but only converted on two of those shots, one from Ryan Bloom and another from Brett Heikkila. The Chill, however, took advantage of their six shots scoring twice as well once from Dom Florian (Sofo, Luka) and another from Sofo (Davis Zembergs, Luka). With :32 seconds remaining in the period Aaron Miller had a chance for a penalty shot after a Matt Doran hooking penalty but was unsuccessful.
The 3rd period got started off with a Phil Erickson goal (Caleb Schroer, Shane Kuzmeski) just over six minutes in. Now down 2-4 Casey Gilling brought the Wilderness back within one goal but that’d be as close as they’d get all night. Larry Jungwirth (Sofo, Kevin Dineen) dangled his way past Minnesota goalie Luke Kania to go up 5-3 and Florian (Luka) added an empty netter with 3:10 remaining to bring the final score to 6-3.
With goalie Matiss Kivlenieks nursing an injury from last weekends loss at Janesville, Hunter Vorva got the call in net saving 36/39 shots on the night. Kania took the loss for the Wilderness after saving just 23/28 shots.
Coulee Region Chill 2, Minnesota Wilderness 1 (OT)
Friday nights game had a different tune to it all around. After scoring nine goals and only committing four penalties between the two teams the night before only three goals were scored and seven total penalties were committed in game two of the weekend series.
Bloom kicked things off for the Wilderness for the 2nd night in a row just four minutes into the first period. There’d be no scoring action again until the 3rd when Schroer (Florian, Luka) tied it back up at one. Although no goals were scored – forcing overtime – the Wilderness’ Heikkila committed a boarding penalty :27 seconds remaining in the period, giving the Chill the man advantage at the start of OT. Florian (Luka, Kuzmeski) utilized the extra space on the ice and fired a shot into the back of net, and the Chill completed the sweep and extended their winning streak against the Wilderness to five games.
Vorva was once again in the net for the Chill and after saving 36 shots the night before he faced just 24 – saving 23 – on Friday night. Chase Munroe was in net for Minnesota and played much better than his counterpart saving 33/35 shots on the night.
Coulee Region Chill 2, Minnesota Magicians 5
After the two games against the Wilderness in La Crosse the Chill would travel to Richfield, MN to face the Minnesota Magicians in the 3rd and final game of the weekend.
Pierce Crawford got the Magicians on the board early in the 1st but Nico Luka (Justin Kendall, Dineen) continued his strong weekend and scored on a power play with under seven minutes remaining in the period. The 2nd period had the same routine, Magicians scoring first off of a Tyler Bump shot and Florian (Schroer, Steven Quagliata) tying it back up before the start of the 3rd.
The final frame would be the one to break the penguins back so-to-speak. After playing two games the previous two days – including overtime – the Chill failed to stop the Magician’s attack and let in three goals over the course of nine minutes.
Vorva struggled for the first time all weekend, saving 24/29 shots. Will Ulrich was in net for the Magicians and he saved 23/25 shots on the night.
The Chill travel to Cloquet, MN this weekend for the final time in the regular season to take on the Wilderness. Now only one point behind the Springfield Jr. Blues for the final playoff spot the Chill have a big task ahead of them with only five more games left to play.
Puck drops at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday. You can catch all the live action on www.fasthockey.com.