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Wilderness earn playoff berth

With a split in Janesville, Wisconsin last weekend, the Minnesota Wilderness secured a playoff berth for the eighth time in its 10 seasons in the North American Hockey League.

The Wilderness lost to the Jets, 6-1, on Friday, March 31, before winning, 3-0, on Saturday to secure a top-four position in the Midwest Division and a spot in the upcoming 16-team Robertson Cup playoffs.

One day after getting pulled in the first period for allowing three goals in Janesville’s first eight shots, Minnesota goalie Isak Posch, of Umeå, Sweden, collected himself to earn the shutout a night later. He stopped all 22 shots on Saturday.

Kevin Marx Norén led the team with two goals Saturday, his team-leading 29th and 30th of the season, while Oliver Stümpel added a goal and an assist. Norén’s goals came on the power play, giving him a team record 14 for the season. The Swedish winger leads the NAHL in power play goals.

The Wilderness (32-17-7) trails the division-leading Wisconsin Windigo, of Eagle River, 75 points to 71.

The teams meet in Cloquet this weekend for games Thursday and Friday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. Minnesota would need an outright sweep to send the teams into the final weekend of the regular season in a tie. Game times are 7:15 p.m.

With two weekends remaining in the season, the Chippewa Steel (64 points) and Kenai River Brown Bears (63), are vying for the Midwest’s final two spots in the playoffs along with Fairbanks (61) and Anchorage (59).

Of Minnesota’s eight appearances in the Robertson Cup playoffs, the team has reached the second round five times. Minnesota won the Robertson Cup in 2015. Last season, it was eliminated in the second round by the Anchorage Wolverines.