Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Springfield Jr. Blues
When: Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 22: 7:15 p.m. both nights
Where: Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet
The lead: The Minnesota Wilderness return from a weekend off to meet Midwest Division rival Springfield.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Records: Springfield: 4-7-0; Minnesota: 6-3-2
Midwest Division standings
Last weekend: Springfield split a road series in Chippewa Falls, WI, vs. the Chippewa Steel. Chippewa took game 1 on Friday, 5-1, while Springfield won the rematch, 2-1. Minnesota was idle last weekend. Two weeks ago, it split a weekend series with the Wisconsin Windigo, with the Wilderness winning Friday, 4-0, and the Windigo claiming an overtime victory Saturday, 3-2.
All-time Series: Minnesota and Springfield have met 20 times in their history, beginning with their first meeting at the 2013 NAHL Showcase. Even though the Jr. Blues claimed the first matchup (4-3 in a shootout), it’s the Wilderness that lead the all-time series, with a 12-7-1 record. Of the 8 meetings played at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Minnesota leads 7-1. In 2021-22, the two squads met six times, with the Wilderness winning four games.
Point Streak Extended: The Wilderness overtime loss to Wisconsin on 10/8 was its first defeat since it fell to the El Paso Rhinos in a shootout on Sept. 16, but it did carry a silver lining. The point earned due to going to overtime allowed Minnesota’s streak of games with a point to 8. Over that span, the Wilderness have generated a 6-0-2 record.
Jech Jam: Luke Jech broke through last weekend with his first two Jr. A goals. The rookie forward from Lakeville, MN, scored in both games vs. Wisconsin, and added an assist in game 1. For the season, Jech has two goals and two assists for four points over 11 games played.
Everyday Eddie: Eddie Shepler continues to pile up points since his arrival in Cloquet. Last weekend, the 19-year-old forward from Livonia, MI, extended his point streak to four games, and has now posted at least 1 point in each game he has been in a Wilderness lineup. He also added to his game-winning goal totals Oct. 7 when he scored the first goal in a 4-0 victory. Shepler has scored the deciding goal three times this season (his one goal with Bismarck was also a GWG), which ties him for the NAHL lead in that category.
Don’t forget Adam: The third member of the forward line with Shepler and Jech also had a big contribution to the 3-point weekend. Adam Johnson put up 4 assists over the two games. That follows the previous weekend where the Mahtomedi, MN, native notched 3 assists in the sweep over Anchorage. Johnson currently has 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists) over 11 games.
Crow Flies: Defenseman True Crow made his on-ice debut with the Wilderness on Oct. 8. The veteran from Eaton, CO, has been with Minnesota since the start of the season, but an injury kept him out of the lineup until the Saturday game of the set vs. Wisconsin. While Crow did not register a point, he finished the game with a +1.
Stumpel Acquired: Shortly before the series vs. Wisconsin, the Wilderness acquired forward Oliver Stumpel from the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. Stumpel is in his 4th year at the Jr. level. He spent 2021-22 playing 30 games with the Rays recording 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points. His previous two seasons were played in Slovakia. Stumpel was born in Torrance, CA, but has dual citizenship with the USA and Slovakia, and has represented the eastern European nation in international tournaments, including this year’s World Junior Tournament. Stumpel is the son of former NHLer and Olympian Jozef Stumpel.
Blue Notes: With the Wilderness being the only Midwest Division team based in Minnesota, this weekend will mark one of only two trips for seven players on the Springfield roster back to their home state (outside of the 4 games played at NAHL Showcase in Blaine in September). Jr. Blues captain James Callahan is one of those Minnesotans. Callahan is a 20-year-old defenseman from Minneapolis in his second season with Springfield. Earlier this season, he committed to play his college hockey at the Air Force Academy. Prior to his Jr. career, Callahan played varsity hockey at Benilde-St. Margaret High School for three seasons.