Wilderness Hope to Continue Strong Play vs. Magicians

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Minnesota Magicians

When:  Friday at 7:15p.m. and Saturday at 7p.m.

Where:  Friday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN; Saturday at Richfield Arena, Richfield, MN

The lead: Wilderness and Magicians hold their 2nd consecutive home-and-series this month. 

Records:  Wilderness:  17-18-1; Magicians: 17-14-4

Streaming:  hockeytv.com

NAHL Midwest Division standings:

Team Points Games played
1 Fairbanks  53 37
2 Springfield 46 33
3 Anchorage 41 34
4 MN Magicians 38 35
5 Chippewa 36 35
6 MN Wilderness 35 36
7 Janesville 33 34
8 Kenai River 19 36

Previous games:  The Wilderness swept the first chapter of this month’s home-and-home vs. the Magicians, winning last Friday in Cloquet, 6-3, and Saturday in Richfield, 5-4.

Season series:  The Wilderness now hold a 5-2 lead over their I-35 rivals for the season series for 2021-22.  

Offensive form returns:  The 11 goals scored last weekend is the best offensive effort in a 2-game series for the Wilderness dating back to Oct. 24-25, when they scored 11 in a 2-game home series vs. Janesville.

Persson Performs:  William Persson’s 5 points last weekend earned him his first league award.  The native of Bjorklinge, Sweden, was named the NAHL’s Midwest Division star of the week.  In the two games, Persson notched 3 goals and added 2 assists. It’s Persson’s first 5-point weekend in his NAHL career.  Persson is in his 2nd season in the NAHL, and 5th season playing Jr. A hockey. 

RPMs Revving:  Persson’s linemates also put up big points over the weekend.  The RPM line [comprised of Niko Rexine (R), Persson (P) and Max Neill (M)] combined for 13 points for the 2 games vs. the Magicians.  Rexine generated 5 points, with 2 goals and 3 assists, while Neill finished with 2 goals and 1 assist.  Neill also added a fight to his weekend highlights, allowing him to earn a Gordie Howe Hat trick Friday night, with a goal, assist and fight.

Power Play Contributes:  The Wilderness power-play was critical in Saturday night’s victory.  The team generated 2 goals on 3 chances, breaking a man-advantage scoreless streak that dated back to Dec. 3.  Persson and Bobby Metz scored the two goals, with Metz’s goal ending up as the game-winner.

Rockin’ Ruoho:  Max Ruoho also was able to perform his way into the 5-point club from the 2 games last weekend.  Ruoho piled up 5 assists, and not only leads all Wilderness defenseman in scoring, but also all NAHL d-men with 29 points over his 35 games.  In addition, his 28 assists put him above all league defensemen.

Smith Wins Debut:  It wasn’t pretty, but newly-acquired Wilderness netminder Matt Smith managed to squeeze out a victory in his debut with the team Saturday.  The Fenton, MO, native made 22 saves on 26 shots in the 5-4 win. The Jr. A rookie remains unbeaten in his young career, which includes 1 previous game in the NAHL with Springfield last September, and an 11-0 record with the NA3HL’s Granite City Lumberjacks.

Magicians Notes:   Gavin Best has been living up to his name this season, and this week his effort earned him a commitment to a Division 1 school.  The native of Richfield, MN, announced he has committed to Michigan State University of the Big 10.  Best currently leads the Magicians in points with 38 points over 35 games.