Junior hockey: Wilderness win their way into postseason
Their playoff opponent is to be determined pending a late game in Alaska.
CLOQUET — It didn't come easy, but Jared Mangan's overtime goal earned the Minnesota Wilderness a 2-1 win on Saturday, April 16 they turned out not to need to reach the North American Hockey League's Robertson Cup playoffs.
While the Wilderness and Chippewa Steel were deadlocked through two periods at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, the Springfield Jr. Blues were putting the finishing touches on a 9-4 rout of Janesville that eliminated the Jets and ensured Minnesota would have a place in the postseason. Still, the overtime win gives Minnesota a chance to get the third seed and avoid division winner Fairbanks in the first round if the Minnesota Magicians could win at Anchorage late Saturday in their final game before moving to Eagle River, Wisconsin next season.
The Wilderness had a major advantage on the short chart (28-13 after two periods and 44-19 for the game) but gave up the first goal to Chippewa's Roux Bazin at 6:40 of the third period. However, Cole Gordon quickly equalized for the Wilderness less than two minutes later. That sent the game to overtime, where Mangan struck at 4:14.
Matthew Smith made 18 saves for the Wilderness, which finished the regular season 35-23-2. The schedule for their best-of-five first-round series vs. Fairbanks or Springfield will be released at a later date.