Hockey

Friesen’s game-winning goal in double overtime gives Anchorage Wolverines playoff lead

After dominating much of the first overtime in their North American Hockey League playoff game against the Minnesota Wilderness on Sunday, the Anchorage Wolverines had nothing to show for their efforts.

Colton Friesen told himself persistence would pay off. And eventually it did.

Friesen scored the game-winning goal at the 12:54 mark of the second overtime to push the Wolverines to a 4-3 win and give the team a 2-1 advantage in the Midwest Division Finals best-of-5 playoff series.

“It’s going to come,” Friesen said of his approach going into the second OT. “We’re going to score. We’ve been dominating the entire overtime and it did. We got one.”

Friesen did it singlehandedly, taking away the puck away along the left boards and skating in towards the side of the net before flipping it off Minnesota goalie Konrad Kausch’s head and in.

“Everyone is just gassed, we’re just trying to keep skating,” Friesen said. “Just pressure, pressure, pressure. Shoot everything because you never know what can go in. Just like that shot. I took a weird shot from the side and it went right off the head.”

It was Friesen’s second goal of the night and according to Wolverines head coach Mike Aikens, the type of effort needed to win close games in the Robertson Cup playoffs.

“It was just Colton Friesen outworking their guy and created a turnover and went to the net and scored a goal-scorers goal,” Aikens said. “A bad angle and found a way to slip it past him.”

The Wolverines dominated both puck possession and scoring chances in the first overtime, outshooting the Wilderness 11-2.

“The first overtime we were really all over them and had a bunch of scoring chances that just didn’t go in,” he said. “Then the pessimist takes over and you are like, ‘We’re letting them hang around.’ You are worried about one bad bounce or bad break happening and you don’t get rewarded for all the good things you’ve done. But you know we stuck with it.”

The win came less than 24 hours after the Wolverines were beaten in nearly every aspect of the game by the Wilderness, who won Game 2 7-2 on Saturday at Ben Boeke Arena.

“Really proud of the guys,” Aikens said. “I came to the rink today really with doubts in my mind. I know how banged up we are and we’re playing such a good team. I thought we were going up against it today and the guys, just as we have all year, we’ve plugged different guys in the lineup and they found a way to get it done. I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys.”

Cameron Morris got the Wolverines on the board off the hop in the first period, scoring at 1:21 with assists from Kory Diponio and Andy Ramsey.

After that, both teams traded off stretches of puck control.

The Wolverines had good chances in the first half of the period, while the Wilderness played much of the second half of the period attacking the Wolverines goal.

Jared Mangan tied the game at 1-1, scoring on a wrist shot after finding space in the middle of the zone.

The Wilderness took a 2-1 lead with a goal by Cole Gordon just 46 seconds into the period.

The Wolverines battled back to regain the lead with a pair of power play goals, starting with a score from Friesen at the 6:48 mark.

Friesen caught a beautiful cross-ice pass from Cooper Morris just as the power play was expiring and zipped it past the Minnesota goalie.

“The last month and a half or two months Colton has been one of our better players on any given night,” Aikens said. “That’s really what I expected of him all year long. It took him awhile to figure out how hard he had to work in this league and the defensive responsibilities that you have. And when he’s figured that out, now I think he’s a legitimate Division I candidate.”

Then late in the second period, the Wolverines converted again with the man advantage.

Hunter Bischoff found the puck front of the net with 1:29 remaining in the period and smashed it home for a 3-2 lead.

But the lead didn’t last long as Mangan struck again for Minnesota at the 2:08 mark of the third period to tie the game at 3-3.

Raythan Robbins got the win in net for Anchorage, stopping 30 of 33 shots on goal.

The two teams will play Game 4 Friday at 4:15 p.m. AKDT at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, Minnesota.







Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.

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