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Wilderness end slide, win a pair

The Minnesota Wilderness got a much-needed home sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears last weekend, ending a five-game losing streak.

The Wilderness got wins of 3-0 on Feb. 9, and 3-2 on Saturday, allowing them to keep pace in a tightly packed Midwest Division. The Wilderness (24-16-4) are in third place with 52 points, trailing the first-place Wisconsin Windigo (63 points) and second-place Janesville Jets (55).

Winners of nine straight, the Windigo are among the top teams in the North American Hockey League. Fourth-place Anchorage Wolverines trail Minnesota by 2 points, and fifth-place Chippewa Steel by three.

Kenai River’s losing streak reached 14 games in the sweep at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.

For Minnesota, goalie Nick Erickson stopped 55 shots on the weekend, earning him Star of the Week honors in the Midwest Division. Erickson, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, owns a 2.14 goals against average and is tied for the league lead with five shutouts.

On Saturday, the Wilderness got two goals from Nate Murray and one from Nick Blood — both are newly acquired, Murray from Fowlerville, Michigan, and Blood, from Minnetrista, Minnesota.

Next up for Minnesota: a road trip to Springfield, Illinois for a two-game set beginning Friday against the Jr. Blues.