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Team drops to fourth

The Minnesota Wilderness dropped into fourth place in the eight-team Midwest Division last weekend, after losing a pair of home games to the Janesville Jets, 3-1 on Feb. 23 and 7-5 on Sunday.

Five players scored for the Wilderness in the second game, including Alessandro Lurati, Nate Murray, Aiden Shrey, Peyton Nelson and Nash Jacobsma. Minnesota erased two Janesville leads during the high-scoring contest, but Janesville kept tacking on go-ahead goals, leading 6-4 after two periods. Not even a goalie change could alter Minnesota’s outcome as starter Adam Prokop was pulled late in the first period, in favor of Nick Erickson. Prokop finished his night with two saves on four shots. Erickson took the loss facing 32 shots with 28 saves. In the opening game at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, the Wilderness scored first, but could not contain the Jets. Janesville scored three unanswered goals and skated to a 3-1 victory.

Gustavs Ozolins gave the Wilderness a 1-0 advantage with a power play tally at the 1-minute, 41-second mark of the middle frame.

It will not get any easier for Minnesota (25-19-4). The Wilderness will next host first-place Wisconsin in a two-game series. Those games are set for Friday and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. in Cloquet.

Wisconsin (38-11-6) leads the division standings with 68 points, followed by Janesville (29-14-3) with 61, Anchorage (28-13-4) with 60, and Minnesota at 54. Anchorage has won six straight to leapfrog Minnesota in the standings, while the first-place Windigo remain red-hot, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

The North American Hockey League regular season carries on through April 13, and the Wilderness have 12 remaining games over the next month-and-a-half.

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