Who: Minnesota Wilderness at Janesville Jets
When: Friday April 8, and Saturday April 9, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Janesville Arena, Janesville, WI
The lead: Wilderness Ride 8-game Point Streak into Janesville
Records: Wilderness: 33-21-2; Janesville: 32-23-1
NAHL Midwest Division standings:
Last weekend: The Wilderness topped Springfield twice at home, 5-2 and 4-2.
Janesville played 3 games, sweeping a road series at the Minnesota Magicians, 5-1 and 8-3, and then fell at home on Sunday to St. Cloud, 4-1.
Season series: These will be the 9th and 10th games of the regular season between the Wilderness and Jets, and will mark the end of the season series. The Wilderness have gone 5-2-1 vs. the Jets in the previous 8 games. The two teams met twice earlier this season in Janesville, with the Jets winning both games, 5-2 and 7-4 on Nov. 12 and 13.
Unbeaten Streak Climbs to 8: The Wilderness sweep of Springfield allowed it to reach a season high in consecutive games unbeaten. The 8-game ride is the franchise’s longest since it won 10 straight in 2013-14. The only blemish in the 7-0-1 mark dating back to March 9 was delivered by Janesville, when the Jets won 4-3 in a shootout in Cloquet on March 25.
Unfriendly Hangar: The Janesville Jets home has been a tough place for the Wilderness to find a win over the last few seasons. Since the rivalry between the two franchises began in 2013-14, Janesville has won 12 of the 18 games (12-4-2) played at the Janesville Arena. The last Wilderness victory on the road vs. the Jets was March 6, 2020, when it handed the Jets a 2-1 defeat in a shootout. The Wilderness last road sweep in the series was Nov. 24-25, 2017. If the Wilderness can snap the sweep drought this weekend, they will clinch a spot in this season’s playoffs.
Thoreson Meets Future Mates: With forward Gunnar Thoreson making his college commitment this week, that means two of his future St. Lawrence University teammates will be on the opposite side of this weekend’s games. Janesville forwards Jan Lasak and Jimmy Doyle have also given a verbal nod to play their Division 1 hockey at the school based in Canton, NY.
Rexine Named 2nd Star; Approaches Records: A 4-point weekend for forward Niko Rexine earned him the Midwest Division’s 2nd Star of the week award. The rookie from Syracuse, NY, posted 2 goals and 2 assists in the series sweep vs. Springfield. For the season, he now has 59 points, which puts him one behind the team’s rookie record for single-season points, held by Aaron Miller, and just 2 behind the team’s overall single-season scoring mark, held by Darian Romanko (both records set in 2014-15).
Star Goaltenders: This weekend’s games could feature a matchup including the last two backstoppers to win the league’s Goaltender of the Month award. Janesville’s Owen Millward captured the honor in February, while Minnesota’s Matt Smith just this week was named the winner for March. The two met for the first time in a game on March 25, and it was Millward who came out on top in a 4-3 SO win.
Houge Joins Team: Defenseman Simon Houge, a senior at Cretin-Derham Hall HS, is expected to join the Wilderness on its trip this weekend to Janesville. Houge led all Raider blueliners with 30 points in 29 games during the 2021-22 season, and helped guide the team to the Section 3AA championship and an appearance in the Class AA state tournament.
Jet notes: Jan Lasak received a league award for his performance last weekend. The Janesville forward was named the Midwest Division’s Star of the Week for the 5 points he registered in a 3-game weekend. Lasak, a veteran from Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia, posted 2 goals and 3 assists, and upped his season totals to 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points.