Wilderness Trim Steel to Sweep Series

Kevin Marx Norén had yet another 2-point game, while Isak Posch stood tall making a season-high 43 saves to lead the Minnesota Wilderness to a 2-1 victory over the Chippewa Steel Saturday night.

Marx Norén finished with a 1 goal and 1 assist, including the game-winning tally with 7:40 left in the third.  This follows Friday night’s game when the forward from Knivsta, Sweden, scored twice, with the second goal coming as regulation time expired in a 4-3 triumph.  Marx Norén now has 7 points in his last 3 games (4 goals, 3 assists), and leads the Wilderness on the season in goals (18) and points (34) over 35 games played.

Meanwhile, Posch was solid stopping 43 Steel shots as Chippewa outshot Minnesota for the second straight, this time by a 44-23 count.  However, Posch was aided by a defense that kept most Chippewa attempts from the blue line.

The Wilderness (21-12-4) opened the scoring early in the first when Marx Norén and Charlie Erickson helped set up Beau Janzig for his fifth goal of the season.  Erickson carried the puck into the offensive zone on the right side, sent the puck along the boards to the left side, where Marx Norén then fed it to Janzig at the blue line.  The defenseman from Hermantown, MN, skated to the high slot where he delivered a wrist shot that beat Chippewa netminder Carter Wishart on his stick side at the 4:07 mark of the opening frame.

Chippewa (17-16-2) tied the game in a 2nd period where it dominated play, with a 19-8 shot advantage.  The Steel took advantage of a turnover in the Wilderness zone, forced the puck in front of the net, and after a series of shots on goal, Matthew Grannan fired in his first as a junior A player 6:13 into the middle frame.

That followed a scoreless stretch that continued until the goal that put the Wilderness ahead to stay.  Not only did Marx Norén notch the game-winner for the second straight, the same two players who helped set up the clinching goal Friday also set it up for Saturday.  At neutral ice, Erickson slipped a pass to Gunnar Thoreson who brought the puck into the Steel zone on the left side.  Thoreson stopped at the bottom of the left circle and after a backhand centering attempt was blocked by a defender, the puck deflected toward the middle of the circle for Marx Norén, who wired a shot through traffic to beat Wishart on the stick side.

The Wilderness was also aided by a strong penalty kill, that kept Chippewa off the board through five opportunities including one chance that featured just over 1 minute of a 5-on-3 situation.

The Wilderness also could not convert on the power play.  By going 0-for-2, the Wilderness is now scoreless in a season-high 18 straight man-advantage situations.

It was a big win for the Wilderness, considering it added two more players to an already extensive injured list before the game.  Forwards Joe Cesario and Adam Johnson were kept out of the lineup after getting banged up in Friday’s win in Chippewa Falls.  They joined defensemen Michael Quinn, Gustavs Ozolins, Max Wattvil and Jameson O’Flynn on the team’s injured list.

Minnesota will next head on the road for two games in Springfield, IL.  It will meet the Jr. Blues for a 2-game series Jan. 27-28.