Minnesota Wilderness defenseman Beau Janzig seals Kenai River Brown Bears forward Noah Holt from Wilderness goalie Isak Posch on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Minnesota Wilderness defenseman Beau Janzig seals Kenai River Brown Bears forward Noah Holt from Wilderness goalie Isak Posch on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Wilderness top Bears in game overshadowed by scary injury

The Minnesota Wilderness defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 2-1 on Saturday night in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in front of 2,612 fans.

The game was overshadowed by a scary injury to Wilderness forward Oliver Stumpel. Minnesota coach Brett Skinner said Stumpel was going to the blue line on the forecheck when a Kenai River player got a stick up, with the shaft hitting Stumpel in the face with 2:30 left in the second period.

Stumpel went face first to the ice and was motionless for about 15 minutes before he was taken off the ice on a stretcher.

“He’s moving in the hospital, responsive and talking,” Skinner said Saturday night. “That’s all we know right now.”

The Wilderness posted an update on their social media accounts early Sunday morning. The update said Stumpel was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital and had substantial injuries. Stumpel was released from the hospital and is back with the team. He will be further evaluated when the team returns to Minnesota after Nov. 11 and 12 games in Fairbanks.

The team thanked athletic trainer Jarret Byrnes, local responders and the staff at CPH “for their great work with Oliver.” Central Emergency Services responded to the incident.

Skinner said the injury was a tough one for his team.

“It’s a physical game and stuff happens,” he said. “But obviously anytime you see a brother go down like that, it was tough for the guys to see, but they rallied around it.”

The Wilderness had a 2-1 lead at the time of the injury and were able to hold that advantage to win in the one-game stop in Soldotna before heading to Anchorage for a game today against the Wolverines.

The Brown Bears host the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Friday and Saturday at the sports complex at 7:30 p.m.

The Brown Bears fall to 12-7-1-0 and are in third place in the Midwest Division, just one point behind the deadlocked Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets and Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Minnesota is 9-5-1-1 and tied for fifth in the league.

The Wilderness scored the lone goal of the first period when Michael Quinn netted a power-play strike.

Just under three minutes into the second period, Bryce Monrean, assisted by Luke Anderson, tied things up for the Bears on the power play.

But about four minutes later, Stumpel scored the game-winner for the Wilderness.

“That was the heartbreaker for us,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “I think there were 2,700 people here tonight, and they were awake after our power-play goal.”

From that point on, Minnesota held on. The Wilderness were outshot 38-18 for the game, including 15-7 in the second period and 16-3 in the third period. Skinner said the Wilderness lost both goal scorers — Quinn and Stumpel — to injury during the game.

Isak Posch got it done for Minnesota, saving 37 while Bryant Marks stopped 16 for the Bears.

“We knew we were going to need a couple of big blocked shots, and Posch has been big-time for us all year,” Skinner said. “To be honest with you, probably a few of those should go in, but he makes those big saves for us.”

The Bears did appear to have the game tied with 18:36 left in the third period, but the whistle blew before the goal. Shaw said the referee told him play was stopped due to a malfunction with Posch’s helmet.

“We had chances,” Shaw said. “It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t get an extra puck to go in. But it’s a decent team over there, so we’ll give them credit.”

Shaw did say it was nice to see forward Michael DeBrito back in the lineup for the Bears. DeBrito is a rookie who had played just two games for the Bears at the beginning of the season before suffering a concussion.

Saturday

Wilderness 2, Brown Bears 1

Minnesota 1 1 0 —2

Kenai River 0 1 0 —1

First period — 1. Minnesota, Quinn (Ozolins, Erickson), pp, 14:13. Penalties — Minnesota 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 3 for 6:00.

Second period — 2. Kenai River, Monrean (L. Anderson), pp, 2:53; 3. Minnesota, Stumpel (Thoreson, Johnson), 7:05. Penalties — Minnesota 3 for 17:00; Kenai River 2 for 15:00.

Third period — none. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 12:00; Kenai River 2 for 12:00.

Shots on goal — Minnesota 8-7-3—18; Kenai River 7-15-16—38.

Goalies — Minnesota, Posch (38 shots, 37 saves); Kenai River, Marks (18 shots, 16 saves).

Power plays — Minnesota 1 for 3; Kenai River 1 for 3.

Cole Gordon of the Minnesota Wilderness and Caleb Huffman of the Kenai River Brown Bears fight Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Cole Gordon of the Minnesota Wilderness and Caleb Huffman of the Kenai River Brown Bears fight Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the Minnesota Wilderness watch as teammate Oliver Stumpel is treated Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. Stumpel was removed from the ice on a stretcher. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the Minnesota Wilderness watch as teammate Oliver Stumpel is treated Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. Stumpel was removed from the ice on a stretcher. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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