Sanborn scores in OT to take series finale over Bighorns

Gillette Wild forward Caleb Sanborn found the puck, spun around and threw a wild shot on net early in overtime against the Helena Bighorns.

The puck found the back of the net and Gillette (19-23) took a 3-2 overtime victory over Helena in the series finale at Spirit Hall Ice Arena at Cam-plex in Gillette on Saturday.

“It was pretty exciting. I just took the puck and shot it right off,” Sanborn said. “The puck was just sitting there and I turned around and shot it.”


The Bighorns (13-25) scored first, and then Wild forwards Declan Young and Nathaniel Fanning each scored in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Bighorn forward Darren Donovan scored to tie the game at 2 in the third period.

Sanborn, who has scored 14 goals and added 20 assists this season, scored his first game-winner 40 seconds into overtime to end with a series split with the Bighorns over the weekend.

In the first game of the series Friday, the Wild lost 4-0, getting out-shot 39-30.

Brad Muzarelli started both games in net for the Wild.

“It was good, fast-paced hockey (with scoring) chances going both ways,” Wild coach Taylor Shaw said. “We didn’t get (a lot) of puck luck, and that happens. You just got to bear down a little bit more.”

The Wild have one more home series left in the regular season when the Bozeman Icedogs (34-6), the top team in the division, come to Spirit Hall Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. Gillette has five total games left in the regular season and is still trying to secure a playoff spot.

Gillette is ranked fourth in the Frontier Division. The top six teams from the division make the playoffs. The top two get a first-round bye and the No. 3 and 4 teams host in the first round, Shaw said.

The Wild started 10-1 before the schedule became more difficult, and they’ve gone 9-22 in their last 31 games.

“It’s been a rocky road, I’ll admit that,” Young said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I think we’re going in the right direction.”

Sanborn said the team needs to stop taking periods off to secure a home ice advantage.

“We can play with any team. We just got to work hard, skate, do the small things right and it will all be good,” Sanborn said.