Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. St. Cloud Norsemen
When: Friday, Oct. 28, 7:15 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 29, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Friday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN; Saturday at Municipal Athletic Complex, St. Cloud, MN
The lead: The Wilderness meet the defending Central Division champion St. Cloud Norsemen for a two-game home-and-home series.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Records: St. Cloud: 5-6-1 (11 pts, 6th place, Central Division); Minnesota: 7-4-2
Midwest Division standings
Last weekend: St. Cloud’s only game last weekend was Saturday in Mason City, IA, where they beat the North Iowa Bulls, 3-1.
Minnesota split its 2-game series at home vs. Springfield. The Jr. Blues slipped by Friday with a 1-0 victory, while the Wilderness posted a 2-0 win Saturday.
All-time series: The Wilderness/St. Cloud rivalry goes back to the Wilderness’ first season of 2013-14, when the St. Cloud franchise was based in Brookings, SD. That season the Brookings Blizzard won 2-of-3 meetings vs. the Wilderness, but Minnesota has dominated the overall all-time series going 29-15-6. This marks the fourth season the franchise has been based in St. Cloud—it spent one season as the St. Cloud Blizzard before rebranding as the Norsemen in 2020-21. St. Cloud won 3 of the 4 meetings between the two teams in 2021-22.
Posch award: The NAHL rewarded goaltender Isak Posch for his performance last weekend in allowing only one goal vs. Springfield with the Midwest Division Star of the Week. He becomes the 34th Wilderness player (12th goalie) in team history to earn a weekly divisional star of the week, and the first since Gunnar Thoreson took home the honor last season for the week ending April 10.
Stümpel Strikes: Last week was a big week for new Wilderness forward Oliver Stümpel. First on Thursday, the Torrance, CA, native celebrated his 19th birthday. That was followed by his first game with his new team on Friday, and then on Saturday, he scored his first goal in a Minnesota jersey. The goal with 10:43 left in the 3rd period put the Wilderness up 2-0, and was Stümpel’s 2nd of the season, as he scored one with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays before his trade to the Wilderness.
Beau Knows Scoring: Scoring the first goal for Minnesota Saturday night was someone who seems to only score clutch goals. Beau Janzig’s tally 2:31 into the first frame was his 3rd of the year and it resulted in being the game-winner. The first two goals of the season for the Hermwantown native were both 3rd period game-tying goals, and both were games the Wilderness ended up winning in overtime. Janzig also remains to be the only Minnesota defenseman to score a goal this season.
Successful Hunt: He did not score any points in Saturday night’s win, but forward Hunter Bulger made some big contributions that were recognized. The veteran from St. Louis had a number of scoring chances, including two breakaways that were denied by Springfield goaltender Carson Dorfman. After the game, his teammates rewarded him with the game ax, given to one player in each victory as the player of the game.
Lonergan’s Debut: Brian Lonergan became the newest member of the Wilderness roster with his first game Saturday night. The Montvale, NJ, native is only 16 (DOB is 12/28/05), and is the youngest player on the team, but impressed with strong skating and stick-handling ability throughout the game. Longer is a defenseman who started the season in the USHL with the Fargo Force and is committed to play in the NCAA with the University of Michigan.
Penalty Kill: The Wilderness penalty kill continues to improve its season success rate, keeping Springfield off the scoreboard in its four power-play chances. Minnesota has now killed 8 straight opponent power plays, and if you only include 5-on-4 situations, that streak goes up to 12. The only opponent power play goal Minnesota has given up so far this month was to Anchorage on Oct. 2 when the Wolverines scored on a 5-on-3. The last goal scored on a 5-on-4 was also to Anchorage, on Sept. 30.
A hero returns: The last time Brock Kautz visited Northwoods Credit Union Arena while involved with a Jr. hockey team, it was the 2015 playoffs, and he was backstopping the Wilderness to a Robertson Cup championship. Kautz set a league record in that post-season winning 10 consecutive games and was named playoff MVP. Kautz will return to Cloquet Friday night as an assistant coach with St. Cloud, after being hired by the Norsemen last summer. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher was hired by former Cloquet Lumberjack Corey Millen, who was also Kautz’s head coach while with the Wilderness during the 2014-15 season and is in his 3rd season leading St. Cloud. Prior to this season, Kautz spent two seasons coaching the goaltenders for the Minnesota Magicians.