Team is outside of playoff picture


March 29, 2024

Swept in Alaska last weekend, the Minnesota Wilderness fell into fifth place in the Midwest Division standings — one point out of a playoff berth with six games to play.

The Kenai River Brown Bears beat Minnesota, 4-1 and 5-2 on March 22 and Saturday, respectively, with the Wilderness falling into 2-0 holes in each game.

Peteris Purmalis, of Liepāja, Latvia, led the Wilderness with two points on the weekend. Goaltender Nick Erickson, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, took the loss in net in both contests.

With 58 points, the Wilderness (27-23-4) sit one point behind the Chippewa Steel (27-24-5), which sits in fourth place with 59 points. The top four teams in each of four divisions advance to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup playoffs.

With six remaining regular-season games, Minnesota has two more games left than the team ahead of them in the standings, the Steel of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The edge in the schedule gives the Wilderness an opportunity to recover. Minnesota is 3-7 in its last 10 games and has struggled to score goals during a second-half fade.

The Wisconsin Windigo (37-14-6) lead the Midwest Division with 80 points, followed by the Anchorage Wolverines (77) and the Janesville Jets (68). Anchorage is charging, having gone 9-0-1 in its last 10 games.

Minnesota split with Anchorage earlier in the Wilderness’ road trip to Alaska, giving the Wolverines their only recent blemish.

Minnesota plays host to the division-leading Windigo of Eagle River, Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday, with games at 7:15 p.m. both nights at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.

After that, Minnesota has four games remaining with the team from Springfield (Illinois), two at home and two one the road to start April.

At 18-28-8, the Springfield Jr. Blues (44 points) are in seventh place in the eight-team division.

Last year, the Wilderness finished second in the regular season and went on to win the Midwest Division crown.


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