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Host Wilderness outduel Avalanche

The Minnesota Wilderness came out hot both nights last weekend to beat the Anchorage Wolverines. The weekend also included the home debut of Cloquet native Patrick Dunaiski.

Peteris Purmalis, of Liepaja, Latvia, led the way with five assists combined over the two games, while goaltender Nick Erickson earned victories in both contests, stopping 84 of 89 shots.

On Friday, the Wilderness scored early in the first and second periods, and after an Anchorage rally tied the match, Aiden Shirey notched the game winner with 12 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the final frame for a 3-2 triumph, said a team news release.

On Saturday, the Wilderness built a 3-0 advantage in the opening 20 minutes, and then needed a third-period tally from Oliver Stümpel to survive, 4-3.

On Friday, the Wolverines outshot the Wilderness 42-19, with much of its offense aided by seven power play chances.

Minnesota’s penalty kill held strong in eliminating each of Anchorage’s man-advantage opportunities.

The Wilderness also was scoreless with the extra man, going 0 for 5.

On Saturday, Connor Farren followed that with his first goal in 10 games since being acquired by the Wilderness. Assisting on the goal was newly acquired forward and Cloquet grad Dunaiski. Dunaiski returned to his hometown rink and played his first game with the Wilderness after beginning the season with Granite City of the North American 3 Hockey League.

Both teams improved on the power play for Saturday night. Anchorage finished 2-for-4, while Minnesota struck once on three chances.

Winning twice allowed the Wilderness to keep pace with Janesville for first place in the Midwest Division. With a record of 21-11-3, the Wilderness is again even in points with Janesville (21-10-2) at 45, but sits outside of the top spot due to the Jets having played one less game.

The Wolverines remain in fourth place with a record of 16-10-4.

This weekend, Minnesota travels to third place Wisconsin for a two-game series with the Windigo in Eagle River.

UMD commit

Ashton Dahms, who became one of the NAHL’s top scorers in his time with the Minnesota Wilderness this season, has selected the University of Minnesota-Duluth as his college destination.

Dahms, who is from Lakeville, played 10 games during the 2022-23 regular season for the Wilderness, and nine more in the 2023 playoffs.

Dahms fit right in with the Wilderness lineup this season and racked up 28 points on 19 goals and 9 assists over 25 games while becoming the squad’s leading scorer.

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