It took a period for the Willmar WarHawks to get going, but when they did… Willmar scored three in the second and five in the final frame to cruise to an 8-1 victory over the host New Ulm Steel.
The win by Willmar (12-10-0-0) was their seventh in their past eight games as the team has climbed up the NA3HL West Division standings. North Iowa Bulls (18-4-0-0) still sit on top with a comfortable lead, but the WarHawks extended their points advantage over third place Alexandria Blizzard to five. The top two teams in the division will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
After a frigid 80-mile bus ride south the WarHawks and Steel played a scoreless opening period. That score didn’t last long though as Jonah Jangula opened scoring at 1:34 of the second. A pair of goals by Dylan Gajewski gave Willmar a 3-0 advantage before the Steel scored on the powerplay shortly before second intermission. Gajewski also picked up a pair of assists for a four-point game.
Willmar came out of the locker room ready to fly in the third scoring three goals in a 1:14 stretch. Jeremiah Konkel, Gavin Uckele and Isaiah Thomas helped the WarHawks to a 6-1 lead by the 4:03 mark of the period.
Jack Willis would convert on the powerplay then just :22 later Cole Wigestrand finished off the scoring frenzy with his seventh of the season. Austin Jozwick assisted on both goals.
“Great team win,” was the post-game reaction by WarHawks head coach Kirk Olimb. “Cooper Olson played great in net. When we’re moving our feet and working hard consistently we’re a pretty good team!
Olson picked up his first NA3HL victory in his sixth start of the season giving up just one goal on 30 shots. The 19-year old is a 2020 graduate of Osseo High School.
Despite the seven-goal win Olimb still sees things to work on saying, “we need to focus a bit more on taking care of the puck. But overall pretty good.”
Willmar return to home ice this Saturday hosting Granite City Lumberjacks.