This Past Weekend
The Minnesota Wilderness looked to get the season started the right way and continue off last season’s success, and they have done just that. After a good week at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, going 3-1, the Wilderness set their eyes on the defending Robertson Cup champions, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. This was also a big week as it was the first chance for the Wilderness fans to see the boys in regular season action at the Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
Friday night started out with a bang as Robb Stautz and Michael Covach scored first period goals to get the home crowd going. Stautz goal at seven minute mark was assisted by Nick Hedemyr and Jesse Norling and Covach got help from Jack Forbort and Tobias Bjorklund. The Wilderness would then let the Ice Dogs back in the game with Caleb Schroer and Cayden Cahill tying the game in the first half of the second period. With two minutes remaining the second period, Norling would get the puck from Dan Litchke and let a wrister go to beat Patrick Munson to give the Wilderness the lead heading into the third period.
Fairbanks would again tie the game at the twelve minute mark of the third with a goal by Jacob Hetz. But the Wilderness would not accept that well, as Forbort would only need fifteen seconds to put the game winner in with the assist going to University of Alaska Fairbanks commit, Tyler Cline. Brock Kautz (29 saves) would get the win and Munson (15 saves) would take the loss. The Wilderness would go 1-4 on the powerplay while holding the Ice Dogs scoreless on their five opportunities sending the home crowd home happy with a 4-3 win.
Saturday night would start out the same way with Cline notching a powerplay goal from a Bjorklund between the legs pass just 53 seconds into the game. Fairbanks would add a powerplay goal of their own when Jacob Stridsberg would beat Ryan Anderson with five minutes remaining in the first period. Bjorklund continued tally up the points when he scored his first and second goal of the young season to give the Wilderness a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Tommy Hall, who was just added to the roster after being released by the Johnstown Tomahawks this week, would go in on a hard forecheck and cause a turnover that led to Stautz’s second goal of the weekend. The Ice Dogs would try to claw back when Ryner Gorowsky scored an unassisted goal with five minutes remaining in the game but Darian Romanko, who the Wilderness just received back from the Madison Capitals (USHL), would get his first of the year on a powerplay feed from Forbort and Billy Exell. Fairbanks would pull Sam Kany with a little over two minutes to go and Ethan Somoza would add a powerplay goal but it was a little too late as the Wilderness completed their first sweep of the season. Anderson (33 saves) would pick up his third win of the season and Kany (30 saves) would take his second loss of the season.
Easton Star of the Week
Tobias Bjorklund was named the Midwest Division Star of the Week after netting two goals and two assist versus Fairbanks last weekend. Jack Forbort also received an honorable mention nominee.
The Wilderness only have one game on tap next week against in-state rival, the Magicians on Saturday at 7:05 PM. This is the first of twelve games with the Magicians, and the Wilderness will continue their new tradition of joining their fans on the ice following all Saturday home games, as they host their second ‘Skate with the Wilderness’ of the season for the kids.
Third Base Bar is sponsoring Saturday night’s game and we will be holding a pre and post game party there. Come between 4:00-6:00 PM before the game as Aaron and his staff will giving away 100 tickets to the game. And then following the game, swing back to Third Base Bar and have some great food and drinks with the whole Wilderness staff.
Tickets are available for $8 (Adults) and $6 (Students, Seniors, and Military) at B&B Market and Southgate Family Pizzeria. You can also pick up tickets at the Wilderness office at 1111 Cloquet Avenue, Cloquet, MN or call 218.879.0910 to order over the phone.
This week’s alumni update will be our first captain ever, Jesse Kessler, who is currently attending Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN. We sat down with Jesse and asked him four questions about his time with the Wilderness and how his transition from junior hockey to college is going.
MN Wilderness: Jesse, how do you feel your transition to college is going? And what do miss most about Cloquet and junior hockey?
Jesse: The transition to college is definitely different from Junior Hockey. Very weird going to school and having homework for the first time in three years. I'm really enjoying it so far though. I miss old teammates, I miss only having to worry about hockey, and I miss my billet family quite a bit. Mmmmm and snow tubing, that's a blast.
MN Wilderness: What is your outlook for this upcoming season personally and team oriented?
Jesse: Hamline's hockey program has struggled the last couple years, our team goal is to win our division and get back to the national tournament. My personal goal is to be in the line-up as many games as I can and contribute in whatever way possible to help the team win.
MN Wilderness: What advice would you give to our 20 year-olds as they start their last season of junior eligibility?
Jesse: Would tell them that you never know who is watching you, make every shift count. Work hard on and off the ice, and do whatever it takes to help your team win.