Wilderness Look to Continue Winning Streak vs. Windigo

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Wisconsin Windigo

When: Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8:  7:15 p.m. both nights

Where:  Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet

The lead:  Former intrastate rivals, a new chapter in the history of the Minnesota Wilderness and Wisconsin Windigo begins this weekend.

Media:  All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.

Records:    Wisconsin: 2-6; Minnesota: 5-3-1

Midwest Division standings

  Team Points Games played
1 Janesville 14 9
1 Fairbanks 14 10
3 Kenai River 12 9
4 Minnesota 11 9
5 Chippewa 10 9
6 Anchorage 9 10
7 Springfield 6 6
8 Wisconsin 4 8

Last weekend:  Wisconsin dropped a pair of games to Kenai River in Eagle River, WI, both by scores of 4-3.  Minnesota swept Anchorage in a 3-game series in Cloquet, winning in overtime Friday, 3-2, and Sunday, 4-3 and in regulation Saturday, 2-1.

Rivalry Continues:  This weekend’s games mark a new chapter in the rivalry between the Wilderness and Windigo franchises.  Wisconsin first entered the NAHL the same year as the Wilderness, and played its first nine seasons in Richfield, MN, as the Minnesota Magicians.  As intrastate rivals, the Wilderness dominated, winning 41 of the 58 meetings between the two squads, including the final five contests during the 2021-22 season.  At the end of last season, a new ownership group purchased the Magicians and moved the team to Eagle River, WI.  The Windigo now play their home games at the Eagle River Sports Arena, also known as The Dome.

Streaks:  The Wilderness and Windigo enter this weekend’s games on opposite trajectories. The sweep over Anchorage has Minnesota on a 4-game winning streak, and 6-game streak where it has earned at least one point (5-0-1).  Wisconsin has lost five straight, including its first four home games in Eagle River.  The Windigo has not won since Sept. 16 at the NAHL Showcase.

Marks for Marx Noren: Kevin Marx Noren’s 2nd hat trick of the season Sunday moved him into a tie for the team record for most 3-goal games in a single season.  The Wilderness record of two hat tricks in a campaign was first set by Tyler Cline during the 2014-15 season.  The forward from Knivsta, Sweden, now leads all Wilderness players with 8 goals in 8 games played this season.

Sulonen Shines:  As Marx Noren lit the lamp Sunday, the Wilderness coaching staff noticed another Scandinavian stand out for his defensive play.  Severi Sulonen was awarded the game’s most outstanding player.  The native of Turku, Finland, did not generate any points, but did finish the game with a team-high +2, and was a +3 over the 3-game series.

 Beau Tie Janzig:  Beau Janzig showed his ability to score clutch goals this weekend.  Not only did the former Hermantown Hawk notch his first two goals of his Jr. A career this weekend, both were tying goals scored in the third period.  Janzig forced overtime in Friday’s series opener versus Anchorage with 5:34 left, and followed that with a tying goal Sunday with 6:25 remaining.   Janzig is the only Wilderness defenseman to record a goal this season.

Piling on the PPGs:  The Wilderness have established themselves with one of the NAHL’s top early season performers on the power play.  Through 9 games, Minnesota has scored 8 times on 25 chances with the extra man, for a 32% success rate, which leads the Midwest Division, and is third in the NAHL.   Kevin Marx Noren leads the way with 3 PPGs, followed by 2 for both Joe Cesario and Cole Gordon, and one from Noah Griswold.

Shepler’s Solid Start: Shortly after being acquired from the Bismarck Bobcats, Eddie Shepler wasted little time in showing that the Wilderness made a wise decision in acquiring the veteran forward.  Shepler, from Livonia, MI, went on to score the game-winner in Saturday night’s contest, and then assisted on Janzig’s tying goal Sunday.

 Reid’s Red-lighter:  This weekend marked the first Jr. A goal for Wilderness rookie Reid Daavetilla.  The youngest player on the Minnesota roster (17 years old) gave his team a 1-0 lead in Friday night’s contest.  He would later assist on Beau Janzig’s 3rd period game-tying goal, and add his second career assist Saturday night on Eddie Shepler’s game-winner.  Daavetilla is a native of Howell, MI, and has a commitment to play NCAA hockey at Michigan Tech.

Dairyland Diary:  Despite moving from the Twin Cities to Minnesota’s eastern neighboring state, the Windigo still have a heavy Minnesota influence on its roster.  14 Minnesotans skate for the Windigo, including leading returning scorer Sam Jacobs.  An Air Force Academy commit from Maple Grove, Jacobs posted 43 points in 59 games for the Minnesota Magicians in 2021-22.