By: Jeph Novak
Late in the third quarter during Saturday night’s Wind Chill game, Issac Leonard scored his first goal of the season, and it was a big one. Jordan Taylor’s leading backhand throw may have easily been disregarded as a mistake, especially given the windy conditions and the tiring Minnesota defense. But Leonard’s final push and huge layout secured the go-ahead break point that would give Minnesota the lead for the rest of the game and powered the team to a 20 - 14 victory over the visiting Thunderbirds.
Photo by Alex Fraser
One of the leading players in the game was Bryan Vohnoutka. Minnesota’s All-Star impressed on both sides of the disc, not only forcing turnovers but clinching breakpoint opportunities. After a few clean blocks in the second half, B-Von’s night was capped with a huge huck to Jordan Taylor for a goal. Vohnoutka finished the game with three assists and two blocks, only further cementing his dominating presence on both the O-line and D-line for the Chill.
Down by two at half, Minnesota recognized their game wasn’t working. With a few miscues and missed throws, the team took the 12-minute halftime to reset and turn things around.
“As a team, we did a good job of hitting a mental reset at halftime. We were quick to acknowledge that the 2nd quarter challenges were associated with a string of poorly executed throws and a few drops, and knew it was in our hands to turn the game back around," said Head Coach Ben Feldman after the game. "Our 2nd half successes to this point in the season provides the group with a lot of confidence coming out of the half.”
Feldman also noted how Minnesota’s late-game defensive pressure has been the difference maker in closing out games this year. The Wind Chill’s defense, with some “added offensive fire power,” has helped the team convert break opportunities at a high rate. In fact, in 2022, the Wind Chill are scoring 41.38% of their defensive points, which leads the entire league. They also lead the league with only 16.2 points allowed to their opponent per game.
Sam Ward, who would end up being the Surly Player of the Game, led the charge in the third and fourth quarters. Ward’s second goal of the night was the exclamation point the to the game, outrunning his defender and getting a full extension layout for a loud point late in the game.
Photo by Trent Erickson
Minnesota’s extends their win streak to 4, and have now worked their way up to second place in the Central Division with a record of 4 - 1. Fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks against some tough division rivals.