Willmar falls short in loss to Granite City

For the second straight game the Willmar WarHawks put over 50 shots on net – and lost the game. Sunday night saw the visiting Granite City Lumberjacks take advantage of every break in their 4-3 victory.

Willmar came into the weekend finale after a frustrating defeat in Alexandria two days prior. Facing a hot goaltender, the WarHawks were shut out 3-0 despite 53 shots on goal.

With redemption on their minds and home ice advantage, the Willmar sticks came ready once again with a 52-shot effort. Unfortunately for the host, the Lumberjacks goaltender was up to the task. Josh Weyandt made 49 saves to help his team to victory.

Zack Kilen opened scoring early in the game before Jack Willis found the back of the net for Willmar to tie the game at 7:05. An opportunistic Granite City would get a pair of goals just past the midway point of the period though to lead 3-1.

An energetic WarHawks squad took the ice in the second and were rewarded at the 15:19 mark when Isaiah Thomas buried his fourth tally in 11 games for Willmar. The WarHawks outshot their opponent 22-6 in the frame and went into the third trailing by a single goal.

Another solid offensive effort was displayed in the third with Willmar holding Granite City to just four shots on net in the 20 minutes. Unfortunately one of those shots ended up in the back of the net when Hanson O’Leary made it 4-2 with 7:05 to play in regulation.

The WarHawks would pull their goaltender for an extra attacker in the final minutes which resulted in a Dylan Gajewski goal at 18:16. Willmar were unable to find the equalizer though, dropping their third straight game.

“Outplayed and outshot them,” said coach Kirk Olimb. “We need to outscore. We’re in a little bit of a slump but still playing hard. Just have to work our way out of it.”

With the loss, third place Willmar (14-15-0-0) find themselves just one point in front of the Alexandria Blizzard (13-15-1-0).