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
NAHL Midwest Division standings:
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.