Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Janesville Jets
When: Nov. 25-26, 7:15 p.m. CDT
Where: Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN
The lead: The Minnesota Wilderness will renew acquaintances with one of its biggest all-time rivals in a two-game home series this weekend.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Records: Janesville: 12-7-5; Minnesota: 13-7-2
Midwest Division standings
Last weekend: Janesville gained only 1 point in a two-game trip in Eagle River, WI, to take on the Wisconsin Windigo. The Windigo triumphed Friday, Nov. 18, in a shootout, 2-1, and shutout the Jets the following night, 3-0.
Minnesota played two at Chippewa Friday and Saturday, and then hosted the Steel Wednesday Nov. 23. The Wilderness won twice, in game 1 on Friday, 4-3 in overtime, and in Wednesday’s game 3, 2-1 in a shootout, while Chippewa won Saturday, 5-2.
Season series: These will mark the first meetings of the season between the Wilderness and Jets. The Jets lead the all-time series 25-14-5, although Minnesota won the series in 2021-22, 6-3-1.
Sulonen Visa: Severi Sulonen did not play in the final two games of the Chippewa series. The veteran from Turku, Finland, has returned to his home country to renew his visa. Sulonen is expected to return to the team in December.
Clutch D to get O: Ren Morque led the charge for the Wilderness defensive corps in generating some clutch offense over the three games vs. Chippewa. Along with scoring the game-winning shootout goal Wednesday night, Morque scored the only Wilderness goals in their 5-2 loss Saturday (his first two goals of the season). The Grand Rapids, MN, native also picked up an assist in Friday’s 4-3 overtime win.
Gustavs Ozolins added to those blue line heroics by scoring the overtime game-winner Friday—his first goal of the season—and assisted on the team’s lone regulation time goal Wednesday, along with fellow defenseman Michael Quinn. Quinn also picked up an assist Friday night, along with Brian Lonergan and Severi Sulonen.
Iron Isak: Isak Posch played all minutes in net through the Chippewa series and was plenty busy. The veteran goaltender faced a combined 81 shots and made 75 saves over the three contests. Posch was especially strong when the games stretched past regulation. In overtime, he stopped seven Chippewa shots and all three of the Steel’s shootout attempts on Wednesday.
Big game Hunter: Hunter Bulger played a big part in two of the biggest goals over the three games vs. Chippewa. The veteran forward from St. Louis, MO, helped set up Ozolins’s OT game-winner Friday night, and scored the team’s lone regulation goal Wednesday. His goal Wednesday night came on a night in which he had a number of chances. Bulger has now posted six points in his last 8 games, after recording just one assist in his first 8 contests with Minnesota.
Jet Fuel: The Wilderness have relied upon playing smart, disciplined hockey through most of the season thus far. The Jets have found success playing a similar style. The two squads have allowed the fewest goals per game in the Midwest Division—the Wilderness allowing 2.27 goals, with Janesville at 2.33. The two teams are also among the league’s least penalized teams—with the Wilderness generating 9.77 minutes of infractions compared to 11.75 for Janesville. The Jets cumulative penalty minutes are tied with Chippewa with the 7th fewest in the league at 282, while Minnesota has the 3rd fewest totals, at 215.