SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Mike Dietrich had a goal and three assists to lead the offence, and Benjamin Michaud scored the winner midway through the third period as the Minnesota Wilderness earned its first win of the 2013 RBC Cup, beating the Truro Bearcats 5-3 on Tuesday afternoon.
The victory is the first-ever by an American team at Canada’s National Junior A Championship; the Wilderness is the first U.S.-based team to qualify for the tournament.
Michael MacKinnon, Nick Szopinski and Jeremy Johnson scored the other goals for Minnesota (1-2), which kept itself in the hunt for a semifinal spot. A Summerside victory over Brooks in Tuesday’s night game would assure the SIJHL champions a spot in Saturday’s playoffs.
MacKinnon finished with a goal and an assist, while Jake Larson added two helpers in the win.
Zack Evans-Renaud, Travis Moore and Grant West had goals for Truro (0-3), which has dropped three in a row for just the second time all season and will need a Brooks win on Tuesday night, along with beating Summerside itself on Thursday night if it hopes to play on the weekend.
Dietrich got the scoring started at 3:43, converting a shorthanded breakaway just 26 seconds into a four-minute double-minor to Zach Thielen, but Evan-Renaud tied it 34 ticks later on the same power play.
The Wilderness took a 2-1 lead to the first intermission thanks to MacKinnon, who snuck a shot through the legs of Truro netminder Shayne Campbell, and made it 3-1 when Szopinski went up and over the glove of Jacob Fancy 8:21 into the second period.
Fancy replaced Campbell to start the middle frame after the Truro starter allowed two goals on four shots. He has now given up 11 goals on 26 shots in three starts, and has been pulled in all three.
Bearcats captain Travis Moore got the Minnesota lead back down to two just 33 seconds after Szopinski’s goal, and West pulled the East Region champions even with three minutes left in the second, snapping a shot past Wilderness goaltender Gordy Defiel.
Michaud scored the winner at 9:37 of the third period, rifling a shot from the top of the face-off circle past Fancy with Minnesota enjoying a long two-man advantage.
Johnson capped the scoring into an empty net with 38 seconds left.
The teams finished even with 23 shots apiece. Defiel recorded the win after making 20 saves, while Fancy was the goaltender of record for the Bearcats, turning aside 16 of the 18 shots he faced.
The Wilderness concludes its round robin on Wednesday when it faces the Surrey Eagles in the day’s only game (3 p.m. AT), while Truro will take on the Summerside Western Capitals in a rematch of the MHL final and Fred Page Cup championship game in Thursday preliminary round finale (7:30 p.m. AT).
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)
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