The Coulee Region Chill certainly weren’t happy.
Despite the evenly matched nature of Friday’s first period, the Chill trailed the Minnesota Magicians by a goal — a shorthanded, relatively soft goal — after 20 minutes at Green Island Ice Arena.
Unfortunately for the Magicians, Coulee Region took out its frustrations over the final 40 minutes. Rookie goaltender Todd Scott recovered from his initial concession to collect his fifth victory, Kevin Dineen and Larry Jungwirth both registered two-point efforts, and the Chill secured an important 4-1 victory in Midwest Division play.
With five games still in hand over the second-place Magicians, Coulee Region still sits in third place, but is just four points adrift of Minnesota ahead of today’s 7:05 p.m. road rematch in Richfield, Minn.
“We’re still building toward finding a way to be better in the second period,” said Chill coach Ryan Egan, whose team rallied from a 1-0 deficit with two goals in both the second and third periods. “We’ve added some things within our system to try and be better in the second period, and I thought we had some timely goals tonight. There were times where they spent a minute or two in our end, and we came down in their end and scored. That’s a good way to counter that kind of pressure.”
“I think we really responded well,” said Dineen, who added two assists to his team-high point total of 28. “We had a lot of different guys step up and make plays, and that really contributed to our overall success.”
Dineen produced two of those plays, as both his assists stemmed from scoring chances he generated with individual brilliance.
Midway through the second period, just over six minutes after Joey Sofo’s equalizing goal at 3:37, Dineen skated in on the Magicians’ net before firing a close-range shot, which took a healthy piece of Minnesota goaltender Daniil Gerasimov before Steven Quagliata cleaned up the rebound to make it 2-1. Then, with the Chill already up by two goals, Dineen initiated his second assist with another bout of individual skill, which led to another rebound goal — finished this time by Jackson Decker, just 65 seconds removed from the penalty box — to close the scoring at 7:51 of the third period.
“Coulee had a pretty good night tonight,” Minnesota coach Scott Meyer said. “They were getting after it, they were competing hard, and we just didn’t match their intensity.”
Coulee Region’s best goal came inside the first two minutes of the final period.
Caleb Schroer set it up, crashing Minnesota’s net before having a close-range shot cleared out to the far-side boards. Third-year defenseman Matt Doran collected the same rebound, and in a flash, he turned from the outer edge of the far circle and fired an inch-perfect shot, which beat Gerasimov from a low-percentage angle to make it 3-1.
Gerasimov finished with 26 saves in a losing effort. Scott had 32 for the Chill.