First Alaska Trip to Conclude in Fairbanks

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs

When: Nov. 11-12, 7:30 p.m. AKDT both games

Where:  Big Dipper Arena, Fairbanks, AK

The lead: The Wilderness complete their first Alaska swing of the season in Fairbanks with two chances to obtain a rare win at the Big Dipper Arena.

Media:  All of the action can be seen on

Records:  Fairbanks: 12-7-2; Minnesota: 10-5-2

Midwest Division standings

Team Points Games played
1 Janesville 26 20
1 Fairbanks 26 21
3 Kenai River 25 20
4 Chippewa 24 20
5 Minnesota 22 17
6 Anchorage 20 20
7 Wisconsin 15 19
8 Springfield 14 17

 Last weekend:  Fairbanks had a pair of tight games at Anchorage. The Wolverines defeated the Ice Dogs in overtime on Nov. 4, 6-5, while Fairbanks punched back the next night prevailing in a shootout, 5-4.

Minnesota also visited Anchorage in a matinee on Nov. 6 and skated off with a 3-1 win. That followed a 2-1 victory on Nov. 5 at Kenai River.

Season series: These will be the third and fourth meetings of the season between Minnesota and Fairbanks. The Ice-Dogs recorded two victories in the season-opening series in Cloquet, winning Sept. 9, 6-2, and Sept. 10, 3-2.

 Trusted ‘Tenders: Wilderness goaltenders Isak Posch and Konrad Kausch came through with clutch performances in the opening weekend in Alaska. The pair combined to make 65 saves on 67 shots over the two games.  Posch (from Umeå, Sweden) came through with 37 saves on 38 shots in game 1 at Kenai River, while Kausch (from Duluth, MN) knocked aside 28 of 29 in game 2 at Anchorage.  When adding the Kausch shutout vs. St. Cloud on Oct. 29, the Wilderness goalies have allowed only two goals in their last 3 contests. For their efforts last weekend, both were named as honorable mentions for the Midwest Division Star of the Week award.

Goals Against Gladiators: The recent play from Posch and Kausch has helped give Minnesota one of the league’s lowest goals against totals thus far on the season. Over 17 games, the Wilderness has allowed 35 goals (average of 2.08 GPG) which tops the Midwest Division and is fourth in the NAHL.

 Bulger Breakout: After registering only one point in his first eight games with Minnesota, Hunter Bulger has seen a spark in his production, with four points in his last 3 games.  After posting a goal and assist in the game on Oct. 29, the forward from St. Louis, MO, equaled that feat in last Sunday’s game vs. Anchorage. Versus the Wolverines, Bulger scored the opening goal in the first period, and then assisted on Charlie Erickson’s game-winner on the power play in the 2nd frame.

O from Ozolins:  Defenseman Gustav Ozolins is in the midst of his first NAHL scoring streak. The native of Riga, LAT, has posted four assists in his last three games.  Ozolins, who is committed to Bemidji State, recorded one assist in both games last weekend following a 2-helper game on Oct. 29 at St. Cloud.

Quinn/Stümpel Mending: Defenseman Michael Quinn and Forward Oliver Stümpel also carried momentum from strong performances in the 10/29 game into the Alaska trip.  The pair were responsible for the two goals scored in the victory at Kenai River. Both also suffered injuries in that game.  Stümpel is recovering from a hit that led to an upper-body injury that required the help of paramedics and was treated at Central Peninsula Hospital and will require further tests in Minnesota before he can be deemed ready to return.  Quinn also suffered an upper-body injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game and is day-to-day.

Thoreson the Saint:  Gunnar Thoreson made it official this week that he will play his college hockey at St. Lawrence University.    Last season, the veteran forward from Andover, MN, made a verbal commitment to the school in Canton, NY.  On Wednesday the Wilderness co-captain put that commitment on paper, by signing his National Letter of Intent to skate for the Saints.

Donovan’s Debut: Donovan O’Neil appeared in his first two games in a Wilderness uniform last weekend. The forward from Duxbury, MA, began the season with the El Paso Rhinos where he played in 11 games, recording 5 goals (including 1 vs. the Wilderness on 9/16 at the NAHL Showcase) and 1 assist. O’Neill is in his 2nd season of Jr. hockey after splitting 2021-22 with El Paso and the South Shore Kings of the NCDC.

Hostile Environment: The Wilderness will be playing in front of one of the NAHL’s more energetic crowds this weekend. Fairbanks has sold out all 2242 seats in its Big Dipper Arena each game so far this season and is currently ranked 2nd in the league in home attendance for 2022-23.  Fairbanks has used that crowd to its advantage over the years, leading the all-time series when hosting the Wilderness with a 5-1 record (9-2 when you add in the playoffs—including going 2-0 in the 2022 post-season).  This weekend will mark the first time the two teams have met in a regular season game in Fairbanks since 2015-16.  The Wilderness’ last victory at the Big Dipper occurred on Jan. 23, 2016 (5-3).


Fairbanks note: Despite his name being tied to a common ingredient in lasagna, no one can call Cameron Ricotta’s game cheesy.  The forward from Buffalo, NY, has noodled his way to the top of the Ice Dogs scoring chart with 17 points in 21 games, and he had his best offensive performance of the season last weekend.  In the team’s 2-game split with Anchorage, Ricotta recorded six points (1 goal/5 assists).  The recruit to Mercyhurst added some special sauce to his performance in Saturday’s shootout, when he scored the clinching goal.  For those efforts, Ricotta was named the Midwest Division’s Star of the Week.