Wilderness Set to Test First Place Ice Dogs

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs

When:  Saturday (2/12/22) at 7:15p.m.

Where:  Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN

The lead: Wilderness put their 6-game winning streak on the line against Fairbanks 

Records:  Wilderness:  21-18-1, 43 pts; Steel: 17-18-2, 36 pts.

NAHL Midwest Division standings:

Team Points Games played
1 Fairbanks 58 44
1 Springfield 57 40
3 Anchorage 46 39   
4 MN Wilderness 43 40
4 MN Magicians 43 40
6 Chippewa 40 42
7 Janesville 39 39
8 Kenai River 25 43

Previous games:  The Wilderness took a week off after sweeping a pair of games vs. Chippewa.  In the home-and-home series January 28-29, Minnesota won Friday in Chippewa Falls, WI, 5-1, and again on Saturday at home, 2-0.

Fairbanks played tonight (Friday), and defeated Chippewa in Chippewa Falls, 4-2. 

Season series:  This will be the 5th and final meeting of the regular season vs Fairbanks.  The Ice Dogs won the first 3 before the Wilderness captured game 4, 5-4, on January 1 in Cloquet.    

TPT Recap:  Forward Will Persson and defenseman Aaron Pionk each registered an assist in leading Team Selects to a 3-2 victory over Team Midwest Tuesday at the Top Prospects Tournament just outside Pittsburgh, PA. The Team Midwest squad also included Wilderness defenseman Max Ruoho.  The tournament is primarily made up of non-college committed players and college-committed talent the NHL has selected to see play as a preview to its draft in June.  Both Team Midwest and Team Selects finished the tournament 1-1, with Team Midwest beating Team Central Monday 3-0, while the Selects team dropped its opener vs. the US National Team Development Program 17U, 5-2.  

Rexine Commits:  Forward Niko Rexine decided this week he wants to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Western Michigan University. The rookie from Syracuse, NY, is currently 4th on the team in goals and 3rd in assists and points.  He’s currently riding a 6-game winning streak, with 4 goals and 9 assists during that span.

Konrad the Conqueror: Konrad Kausch captured his first career shutout in the team’s last game, a 2-0 win over Chippewa on 1/29. The Duluth, MN, native stopped all 24 Steel shots, which followed a 28-save performance 1/28 on 29 shots.  His performance earned him a Midwest Division Star of the Week honor.  

Max-mania!  Max Neill capped off an outstanding January by winning the NAHL’s Forward of the Month award.  Neill registered at least 1 point in 7 of the 8 games played last month, and had multiple points in 4 of those games.  In the 6 games this season where he has at least 2 points, the Wilderness are undefeated, and the team is 15-8 when he scores at least 1 point.  He enters Saturday’s game on a 6-game point streak, which matches the current winning streak.

Mangan’s Debut:  The Wilderness have acquired Jared Mangan as a new forward to its roster.  Mangan hails from Charleston, SC, and began his rookie season with the Madison Capitols of the USHL.  In 26 games with Madison, Mangan racked up 3 assists and 4 penalty minutes.  He previously played prep school hockey in Pawling, NY, with Trinity-Pawling, and skated for the Rochester Coalition AAA program.  With the Wilderness he rejoins forward Niko Rexine and defenseman Severi Sulonen who were also teammates with him in Rochester. 

Olympic Alumnus:  Janis Jaks this week became the first former Wilderness to skate in the Winter Olympics.  Jaks is representing Team Latvia at the games in Beijing, China.  He played with Wilderness for 2 seasons beginning in 2014, and went on to play 4 seasons at American International College.  The Riga, Latvia, native is now a defenseman for HK Sochi of the KHL and is in his 2nd season of professional hockey. 

Ice Dogs Notes:   Fairbanks made a number of trade deadline deal acquisitions, and one has paid off nicely in the 3 games he has played. Braden Lindstrom, from Wyandotte, MI, has 4 points, including 3 goals and 1 assist since joining Fairbanks from the Chippewa Steel.  Lindstrom’s totals include 2 he put in the net against his former team Friday night.