Wilderness streak hits the skids
March 24, 2023
The Minnesota Wilderness split a weekend series against the Chippewa Steel, falling 2-1 Friday, March 17, before turning the tables in a 2-1 shootout win Saturday, March 18.
The Wilderness carried 1-0 leads into the third period of both games, against the team from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The split allowed the red hot Wisconsin Windigo to build on its now 4-point division lead over Minnesota.
Kevin Marx Norén scored the shootout goal that clinched Minnesota's win Saturday. The forward from Knivsta, Sweden leads the Wilderness with 51 points through 50 games. He used a wrist shot between goalie Adam Gajan's legs to secure the win.
Gajan had thwarted Minnesota's leading scorer with a skate save as time was running out to preserve the Steel win on Friday. Gajan is committed to play at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Minnesota.
Goalie Isak Posch continued his strong play for the Wilderness. He made 36 saves in Friday's loss, before adding 29 more saves in the win to salvage the series. Minnesota's power play struggled going 0-for-5 over the weekend.
Minnesota got a goal from Torrance, California native Oliver Stümpel to take the second-period lead in the team's win. In Friday's loss Bo Cosman scored, his third goal since the Milton, Georgia native joined the Wilderness in February.
Minnesota (29-16-7) remained in second place in the North American Hockey League's Midwest Division, with 65 points. The division-leading Wisconsin Windigo (33-16-3) improved to 69 points after a pair of dominating wins, 10-2 and 6-1, last weekend against the Janesville Jets.
The Windigo are 9-1 in their last 10 games, while the Wilderness are 6-3-1 in that span.
At 58 points, the third-place Fairbanks Ice Dogs have fallen off the pace, losing six of their last 10. Rounding out the division, the Chippewa Steel and Kenai River Brown Bears (57 points each) are followed in the standings by Anchorage and Janesville (53 each) and the Springfield Jr. Blues (48).
Minnesota's regular season is winding down. The team plays host to Janesville for a pair of games Friday and Saturday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet. The games start at 7:15 p.m.
Minnesota then travels to Janesville for games March 31 and April 1, before hosting a pair of games against the Wisconsin Windigo in Cloquet on April 6 and 7.
Minnesota wraps up its regular season with two games in Chippewa Falls against the Steel on April 14 and 15.