Wilderness finish strong
April 21, 2023
Kevin Marx Norén scored two third-period goals Saturday, April 15 to send the Minnesota Wilderness soaring into the Robertson Cup playoffs following a sweep in Chippewa Falls,
Norén scored three times over the weekend, leading Minnesota to 2-1 and 6-3 wins over the Chippewa Steel. For his scoring exploits, Norén was named the Midwest Division’s Bauer Star of the Week earlier this week by the North American Hockey League. He also became the team’s all-time leading single-season goal scorer, with 33 goals.
The 20-year-old forward from Knivsta, Sweden, was traded to the team early in the 2022-23 campaign, scoring 33 of his 34 goals in a Wilderness uniform.
The Wilderness (35-18-7) now enter the Robertson Cup playoffs as the second seed in the Midwest Division, behind the regular season champion Wisconsin Windigo (39-18-3). Minnesota will play third-seed Kenai River Brown Bears (32-24-4), while the fourth-seeded Chippewa Steel (31-25-4) will meet the top-seeded Windigo.
Game 1 between the Wilderness and Brown Bears is 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 21 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet. The best-of-five series will remain in Cloquet for Game 2, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
Because travel to Alaska and back is so time consuming, the format of the rest of the series is a little different than if it were two teams in the lower 48 states.
If Kenai River wins one of the first two games, Game 3 will be 5:15 p.m. Sunday in Cloquet.
If the Wilderness wins the first two games, the remaining games of the series will be at Kenai River, beginning with Game 3 on April 28. Game 4 will either be April 28 or April 29, and Game 5 would be April 29 or April 30, depending on how things play out earlier in the series.
The winner of the Midwest Division portion of the playoffs will advance to play in the Robertson Cup semifinals.
The Austin (Minnesota) Bruins (34-16-10) are the top seed in the Central Division, while the Maryland Black Bears (40-15-5) finished atop the East, and the Oklahoma Warriors (44-14-2) were best in the South.
The Wilderness last won the Robertson Cup in the 2015-16 season and has reached the playoffs eight times in the team’s 10 seasons.