Trades happen often in junior hockey, and to determine if they work out can take weeks if not months. For the Minnesota Wilderness Thursday, it took a matter of hours.
General manager Dave Boitz made a deal with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs to acquire forwards Kevin Marx Noren and Noah Griswold Thursday morning. After scoring only five goals in its first three games, the team needed to do something to address an anemic offense. By the end of day Thursday, not only did Minnesota notch its first victory of the season, several new offensive records were set in the process.
Marx Noren found the back of the net four times, and assisted on one goal for a 5-point night. Griswold also added a goal, as the Wilderness smoked the Northeast Generals, 7-3.
Marx Noren’s performance led to a new team record for goals in a single game (4), tying the team record and setting a new team NAHL Showcase record for single-game points (5), tying a team record and setting a new team NAHL Showcase record for goals in a period (3), and setting a new team record for goals in a NAHL Showcase game (7). His four goals and five points also established new marks for a player’s first game with the team.
On top of that, his four goals were scored consecutively, earning the title natural hat trick, or, due to the fact it was four goals, rather than three, it would be a natural “Texas hat trick”.
The 20-year-old from Knivsta, Sweden, began his onslaught in the first period, although it was not until Northeast (1-3-0) staked itself to a 2-goal lead. Paul Minnehan and Ryan Schelling scored at 4:53 and 9:47 of the first period, respectively, and the Generals seemed poised to take charge of the hockey game. Yet, it was after the second goal when the Wilderness began to come to life and Marx Noren got used to his new teammates.
His first goal with 2:08 left in the first period came after being setup by Charlie Erickson and Beau Janzig. That was followed by three more in the second period—with the final goal being on the power play and giving the Wilderness (1-3-0) a 4-2 lead.
Early in the third, his trade partner Griswold got on the board to make the score 5-2. Northeast got one back with 6:33 remaining on an unassisted tally from Jack Schubert, but a Joe Cesario’s goal, assisted by Marx Noren, with 2:44 left restored Minnesota’s 3-goal lead. The team completed the scoring with a Jack Seaverson empty-net goal in the final two minutes.
Cesario also got in the record books with his two second period assists tying a team record for assists in a period in a NAHL Showcase game.
Konrad Kausch put in a strong performance in net helping close out the win. Northeast outshot the Wilderness 36-25, with half of its shots coming in the final frame, when the Generals finished with an 18-8 advantage. Kausch turned aside 17 of those 18 Northeast shots in the final frame, and 33 for the game. The victory evened Kausch’s record to 1-1-0.
For Northeast, Joey LoVullo took the loss in his first start as a Junior A player, making 18 saves on 24 shots.
On special teams, the Wilderness penalty kill held strong for the first time this season, keeping Northeast scoreless on two chances. Meanwhile, the Wilderness power play registered a goal for the fourth time in four games—going 1-for-4.
On top of all that, this effort gave head coach Brett Skinner his first win behind the Wilderness bench.
“Really nice to get the first win and especially happy for the kids who played the right way and were rewarded for it,” said Skinner. “It was a great team win and looking forward to the challenge of getting back after it tomorrow!”
Day 3 of the NAHL Showcase will feature another first-time opponent for Minnesota, as they take on the El Paso Rhinos at 4:45 p.m.