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Murray Leads Wilderness to OT Win

February 11, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Minnesota Wilderness News Release


Nate Murray is fitting right in with the Minnesota Wilderness.

The newly acquired forward from Fowlerville, MI, scored two clutch goals Saturday night. He first tied the game just 11 seconds after the Kenai River Brown Bears took the lead late in the third period, then notched the game-winner on a power play in overtime to pace the Wilderness to a 3-2 victory.

Another newcomer, Nick Blood, registered a goal and an assist for the Wilderness.

Nick Erickson won for the second straight night in goal, making 30 saves on 32 shots.

Minnesota opened the scoring with Blood's tally with just one second left in the first period. While on the power play, the veteran from Minnetrista, MN, deflected in a shot by Beau Janzig for his second goal in as many games with the Wilderness. Hayden Walters also assisted on the goal after winning a puck battle in the corner and sending a pass to Janzig at the left point. Janzig then maneuvered to the high slot where he fired the puck toward Blood who was positioned in front of the net to ramp in the first goal.

After a scoreless 2nd period, Kenai scored twice to take its first lead in the 2-game weekend series thanks to red-lighters from Roope Tuomioksa and Dylan Contreras. Tuomioksa tied the contest with 11:35 remaining, while Contreras made it 2-1 with his goal with 4:58 left to play.

That led to Murray's heroics.

On his first goal, Joe Manning, who was also playing in only his second game with Minnesota, and Blood assisted. Off the ensuing face-off after the Brown Bears took the lead, Manning chased down the puck in the defensive zone, and sent it to center ice, where Blood and Murray helped sweep it across the Kenai blue line. With a one-handed tap, Murray got the puck past a defender, and then raced in to retrieve the puck along the right-wing boards. The 19-year old then wired a pin point shot from the extended goal line just below the right face-off circle to beat Kenai goaltender Conor Sullivan in the top left corner with 4:47 on the clock.

The game remained locked at two through the end of regulation time. The 3-on-3 overtime then became a 4-on-3 when Minnesota gained a power play after Kenai's Blake Norris was called for hooking. Oliver Stümpel helped set up the game-winner when, from the bottom of the right circle, he whipped a cross-ice pass to Murray in the left circle, who snapped a shot that stretched twine from the just below the cross bar and drove Sullivan's water bottle straight up in the air. Gustavs Ozolins also assisted on the goal which came with 1:57 left in the extra frame.

The Wilderness outshot Kenai River, 37-32. Sullivan took the loss making 29 saves.

Minnesota finished the night 2-for-6 on the power play. It was also adept at remaining out of the penalty box most of the game, with the Brown Bears (12-27-4) earning only one power play chance, which the Wilderness managed to kill off.

Combined with Friday's 3-0 victory, the win allowed the Wilderness (24-16-4) to complete a weekend sweep after losing its five previous contests.

Up next for Minnesota is a road trip to Springfield, IL. The Wilderness will take on the Springfield Jr. Blues in a two-game series beginning Feb. 16.


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