Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. St. Cloud Norsemen
When: Dec. 2, 7:15 p.m. CDT and Dec. 3, 7:00 p.m. CDT
Where: Friday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN; Saturday night at Municipal Athletic Complex, St. Cloud, MN
The lead: Minnesota closes out a 4-game home swing and kicks off a string of six straight on the road in this weekend’s series vs. St. Cloud.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Records: St. Cloud: 8-11-2; Minnesota: 15-7-2
Midwest Division standings
Last weekend: St. Cloud’s last game was Nov. 23 when it hosted the Austin Bruins. The Norsemen lost their third straight game, 3-0.
The Wilderness swept the Janesville Jets in a home series by identical scores of 4-3, with Saturday’s game finishing in a shootout.
Season series: The 4-game season series concludes this weekend. The two squads split the previous two contests on October 28-29, with St. Cloud winning 4-1 in Cloquet on the 28th, and the Wilderness taking game 2 in St. Cloud, 9-0.
Quinn Earns 2nd Star: Michael Quinn was named the Midwest Division’s 2nd Star of the Week for his 4-point performance over three games last week. The defenseman from St. Louis, MO, had three points in the series vs. Janesville (1 goal, 2 assists) and picked up 1 assist vs. Chippewa on Nov. 23.
November to Remember: Sweeping Janesville last weekend allowed Minnesota to finish one of its best Novembers in team history. The team finished with a 7-2 record—it’s best November record since its NAHL debut season of 2013-14, when it went 7-2-1.
Saturday’s win also allowed the Wilderness to reach the 15-win mark in swift fashion. 24 games is the quickest the Wilderness hit 15 wins since the franchise’s first 3 seasons—when it reached the 15-win mark in 23 games in each of the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Top Power Play: After going 6-for-11 with the extra man in the two games vs. Janesville, the Wilderness took over the top spot in the NAHL power play rankings. Minnesota has now converted 23 of 73 man-advantage situations for a 31.5% success rate. The Wilderness are currently riding a 4-game PPG streak and with two consecutive 3-PPG games, the Wilderness have now scored multiple power play goals four times this season.
Marx Norén Leads in Goals: Credit Kevin Marx Norén for being the team’s top power-play scorer with 5 goals on the season. Over the weekend, the forward from Knivsta, SWE, re-claimed the title as the team’s top overall goal scorer with 11. Marx Norén scored twice Friday, his second being the game-winner, and also notched Saturday’s only shootout goal.
Morque Top Scorer: With points in five of his last six and 5 points in his four games, Ren Morque now leads the team in points. On Saturday, an assist on Adam Johnson’s goal was Morque’s 18th helper on the season and he became the first for the Wilderness to hit 20 points. The Grand Rapids defensemen’s 11 points on the power play also pace the squad.
Shepler Returns: Minnesota’s top even-strength scorer is set to return to the lineup by Saturday. Eddie Shepler has yet to score a special teams goal, with all seven of his tallies coming with the team being 5-on-5. The forward from Livonia, MI, missed the game on Nov. 26 due to a suspension over a slashing penalty issued the night before. He’ll serve game 2 of the suspension this Friday night.
Norse Notes: Despite struggling recently with a 3-game losing streak, St. Cloud continues to hold the Central Division’s best penalty kill. The Norsemen have successfully held off opponents on 84 of 99 chances with the extra man this season. The 84.8% success rate is tied for 7th in the league.
In their previous two games, the Wilderness went 0-for-4 on the power play in their 4-1 home loss to St. Cloud, but came back to score three on six chances in the 9-0 win in St. Cloud.