Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Minnesota Magicians
When: Friday at 7:15p.m. and Saturday at 7p.m.
Where: Saturday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN; Sunday at Richfield Arena, Richfield, MN
The lead: Minnesota’s I-35 NAHL rivals play in the first of what will be two consecutive home-and-home weekend series.
Records: Wilderness: 15-18-1; Magicians: 17-12-4
NAHL Midwest Division standings:
Previous games: The Wilderness fell to Chippewa, 3-0, Saturday, Jan. 8, and are 1-1 in the 2022 portion of the schedule. The Magicians beat Chippewa, 6-5 in a shootout, Wednesday, Jan. 12, improving their 2022 record to 4-1.
Season series: These will be the 6th and 7th meetings of the season for these two teams. The Wilderness have won 3 of the previous 5, but the Magicians took the most recent contest, 5-4, on Nov. 24.
Pineau Premieres: The Wilderness have added Alex Pineau to its defensive corps. Pimeau is a native of Thunder Bay, ONT, and is in his first season of Jr. A. hockey. The 18-year-old began the season with the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) and played his midget hockey with the Thunder Bay Kings AAA.
Wolthers Returns: Forward Ethan Wolthers is expected to suit up again for the Wilderness this weekend. The Valencia, CA, native has missed the last 3 games due to an upper body injury suffered just before the Christmas break. It’s the 2nd time this season that Wolthers has missed games due to injury. The Western Michigan commit also sat out a pair of games in December after receiving a cut on his leg from a skate. Over 29 games, Wolthers is tied with Gunnar Thoreson for the team lead in points with 32.
Persson Play: Last Saturday’s game vs. Chippewa marked the return of Will Persson to the Wilderness lineup. The Bjorklinge, SWE, native missed 7 games dating back to Dec. 10 to travel back to Europe and renew his work visa. After playing 28 games, Persson’s 12 goals are 2nd on the team, while his 28 points are third.
Power Play Injection: With Wolthers and Persson back together, the Wilderness are hopeful that can provide a spark for a struggling power-play. The two have combined for 17 power-play points this season, with Persson leading with 6 power-play goals. The Wilderness have been held scoreless on their last 32 man-advantage situations, dating back to their last power-play goal on December 3.
Magicians Notes: The rivals from the Twin Cities come in riding a tidal wave of goal scoring since the new year began. The Magicians have scored 28 goals in their last 5 games, winning 4. Maple Grove, MN, native Trevor Kukkonen has played a vital role for the team throughout that stretch, especially the last 2 games. The commit to Michigan Tech has generated back-to-back 3-point games with 2 goals and 1 assist in both victories over Anchorage and Chippewa.