Who: Minnesota Wilderness at Minnesota Magicians; Minnesota Wilderness at Springfield Jr. Blues
When: 7:00p.m., Thursday; 7:05p.m. Friday and 6:00p.m. Saturday
Where: 7:00p.m. Thursday at Richfield Arena, Richfield, MN; 7:05 p.m. Friday and 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Nelson Center, Springfield, IL
The lead: The Wilderness look to regain playoff position in a 3-game road set versus two Midwest Division rivals.
Records: Wilderness: 23-19-1; Magicians: 21-18-7; Springfield: 29-14-3
NAHL Midwest Division standings:
Last weekend: The Wilderness split a home-and-home series vs. St. Cloud, dropping Friday night’s game on the road, 5-2, and rebounded with a whopping 8-0 blowout at home Saturday.
The Magicians split a pair of games on the road at Kenai River. The Brown Bears took Saturday’s contest, 7-5, while the Magicians won Saturday, 4-2.
The Jr. Blues dropped both of its contests in a home series vs. North Iowa by scores of 3-1 and 5-3.
Season series: Thursday’s game vs. the Magicians will be the 10th and final meeting between the two teams of the 2021-22 schedule. Of the previous 9, the Wilderness have won 7, including the last 4.
This weekend will make the 3rd and 4th meetings between Minnesota and Springfield. The two teams previously split a series in Springfield on Oct. 29-30 – Springfield winning game 1, 4-2, while the Wilderness took game 2 in a shootout, 3-2.
8 was Enough: The 8-goal victory margin in Saturday’s win over St. Cloud tied a franchise record for margin of victory. The current record was set on Oct. 3, 2015, in a 9-1 home win over Kenai River.
Penalty Shot Success: Forward Gunnar Thoreson Saturday became the first Wilderness player since 2017 to score on a penalty shot. Gino Lucia was the last to score a penalty shot goal, on Oct. 27, 2017 at Aberdeen. It was the team’s first such goal to be scored at home since Oct. 25, 2013, when Thomas Lindstrom lit the lamp vs. Janesville. Thoreson’s goal was his 12th of the season, and it came with 16 seconds left in the 2nd period.
First Goal Fireworks: Along with a shutout, a penalty shot goal and dominating offensive performance, two players were able to light the lamp for the 1st time in their Jr. hockey careers in Saturday’s win. Jared Mangan of Charleston, SC, opened the game with his first Jr. A goal 3:33 into the 1st period, and Calvin Knight, of Evergreen, CO, notched his first ever goal 2:28 into the 3rd.
Added Depth: The Wilderness will see the return of two forwards to the lineup for Thursday’s game. Haden Kruse has been out since Oct. 30, when he suffered an injury in a game at Springfield. The Nisswa, MN, native had a strong first 10 games, with 4 goals and 6 assists.
Barrett Hall will also be back after completing his high school career with Gentry Academy Wednesday night. In his 6 games with Minnesota, Hall recorded 1 goal and 3 assists, and then followed that with a 55-point season at Gentry. Hall is a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award, given annually to the state’s most outstanding senior high school hockey player.
Magicians notes: The Magicians made a number of transactions around the time of the league’s trade deadline in February, and one has been impressive since his arrival. Defenseman Evan Tanos was acquired from the Chippewa Steel, and since his debut with the Magic on Feb. 11, the Richmond Hill, ON, native has posted 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) over his 7 games played, including 4 in his last 4.
Jr. Blues notes: Springfield has struggled as of late, having lost its last 4, but forward Hagen Moe continues his strong play. The Bowling Green State commit has goals in 3 straight, scoring 4 in that span. The native of Grand Rapids, MI, leads Springfield with 22 goals on the season in 42 games.