As their lead in the Frontier Division standings continues to grow, so does the target on their back.
The Gillette Wild withstood all the Badlands Sabres had in store sweeping a weekend series over the division foes this weekend at Spirit Hall Ice Arena. The Wild needed overtime Friday night, escaping with a 3-2 win, before shutting out the Sabres 2-0 on Saturday.
“I’m happy with how the games ended, I’m not completely happy with how the games went.” Wild Head Coach Ethan Hayes said. “We have a lot of work to do if we want to achieve some big goals.”
Badlands frustrated the Gillette offense Friday night holding the Wild scoreless through the first period. Dawson Wirth put the Sabres out front scoring just past the halfway mark of the first. It’s a lead they’d hold until the second period.
Adam Severson would tie the game early in the second on a goal assisted by Isaac Young and Wylee Gladen. Badlands would go back out front scoring in the final minute of the period.
Young would tie the game midway through the third on a goal assisted by JP Johnson, and Johan Palmqvist. The final nine minutes of regulation would play scoreless sending the game into overtime.
Anthony Foster would gather a loose puck, just to the right side of Sabres goaltender Brady Devries, tossing a backhand shot past the net minder and sending the Spirit Hall crowd into a frenzy.
“When you’re first in the division and second in the nation you’re never gonna get a break, you’re never gonna get someone’s bad game,” Hayes said. “Everyone is prepared to take down giants, and they do whatever they have to do to try to do that. So we’re always going to see someone’s best.”
Cole Wheaton got the win for Gillette in goal stopping 22 of 24 shots he faced. Wheaton is now 6-1 on the season and stopped 202 of 222 shots he’s seen.
Saturday night, two early Gillette goals and stellar goaltending would be enough to lockup the series sweep.
Sky Solig scored 90 seconds into the contest on a goal assisted by Saizha Norwegian and Josef Lalli. Gladen would add another four minutes later, assisted by Alec Waller and Zach Slinger.
After that, Wild goaltender Jake Turek and the defense would do the rest. Turek stopped all 16 shots he faced and moved his record to 5-0 on the season. Turek has stopped 178 of 190 shots he’s seen this year.
Gillette will head to Great Falls on Friday for the first of three straight division road trips.