Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
When: Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10: 7:15 p.m. both nights
Where: Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet
The lead: A rematch of a 2022 Midwest Division Semi-final series marks the beginning of the regular season for the Minnesota Wilderness and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
2021-22 Records: Fairbanks: 37-20-3, 77 points, 1st place, Midwest Division; Minnesota: 35-23-2, 72 points, 4th place, Midwest Division
2022 playoffs: After Fairbanks took games 1 and 2 of the 2022 Midwest Division Semi-finals with victories at home, the Wilderness bounced back to win the final 3 games of the series in Cloquet and advance to the Midwest Division Finals. Anchorage eliminated the Wilderness in the second round in 4 games.
All-Time Regular Season Series: Minnesota and Fairbanks have had 18 regular season meetings in their history, with the Ice Dogs leading the all-time series 11-7. In 2021-22, Fairbanks won 3 of the 5 contests. At Northwoods Credit Union Arena, the Wilderness lead the all-time series, winning 5 of 9 games played, and winning 2 of 3 games in 2021-22.
Game 1 Woes: Minnesota will look to change some bad opening day luck it has run into over the years. The Wilderness have not won a regular season first game since Sept 17, 2014. Its overall record on opening day is 2-7.
Showcase will wait: Of Minnesota’s 9 previous opening day contests, 6 of those have been played at the NAHL Showcase. Of the 3 openers played outside of the annual Showcase tournament in Blaine, MN, only once has the team opened at home. The last time Northwoods Credit Union Arena hosted an opening day was Sept. 18, 2015. That also featured Fairbanks as the opponent, and the Ice Dogs prevailed, 6-2.
New Vets: This weekend’s Minnesota roster will feature 7 players who finished 2021-22 with the team, along with 8 veterans who previously skated for other NAHL teams or teams in other Jr. hockey leagues. Joining the Wilderness returnees of Charlie Erickson, Cole Gordon, Bryce Howard, Konrad Kausch, Calvin Knight, Ren Morque and Severi Sulonen are the following:
|True Crowe||D||Drumheller (AJHL)|
|Matt Delaney||D||Amarillo (NAHL)|
|Jacob Hicks||F||Granite City (NA3HL)|
|Jack Hillier||F||Nepean (CCHL)|
|Adam Johnson||F||Rochester (NA3HL)|
|Ben Oakland||F||Rochester (NA3HL)|
|Michael Quinn||D||Sioux Falls (USHL)|
|Isak Posch||G||Sioux Falls (USHL)|
Ice Dog Bite: Friday’s game will mark the first season-opener for Fairbanks head coach Dave Allison since he took over as the team’s bench boss. Allison, a Fort Frances, ON, native, was hired on Jan. 10, and coached the team through its final 25 games of the 2021-22 season, and all 5 playoff contests. Allison’s regular season record as Ice Dogs head coach is 14-9-2. He enters this weekend with an active roster containing 10 players on the 2021-22 squad that won the Midwest Division regular season title.