Wilderness Make Final 22-23 Trek to Springfield

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Springfield Jr. Blues

When: Jan. 27, 7:05 p.m., Jan. 28, 6:05 p.m.

Where:  Nelson Center, Springfield, IL

The lead:  The Wilderness and Jr. Blues look to build on recent success in a 2-game series this weekend in Springfield.

Media:  All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.

Records:  Springfield: 16-18-0; Minnesota: 21-12-4

Midwest Division standings

Team Points Games played
1 Fairbanks 47 39
2 Minnesota 46 37
3 Wisconsin 44 36
4 Janesville 41 39
5 Kenai River 40 39
6 Anchorage 38 35
7 Chippewa 36 35
8 Springfield 32 34

Last weekend: Springfield split a pair of home games vs. Janesville on January 20-21. In game 1, Janesville won 4-2, while Springfield bounced back to take game 2, 4-1. The Jr. Blues have won 3 of their last 4.

Minnesota swept a home-and-home swing vs. Chippewa with a 4-3 win in Chippewa Falls, WI, Friday, and 2-1 victory at home Saturday.

Season series:  These will be the fifth and sixth meetings this season between Minnesota and Springfield. The two squads split both of the two previous series. On Oct. 21-22 in Cloquet, Springfield won game 1, 1-0, while the Wilderness shutout the Jr. Blues Saturday, 2-0.  In Springfield on Dec. 16-17, Minnesota was victorious 3-1 in game 1, while Springfield bounced back to win game 2, 5-2.

KMN GWGs: After scoring the clinching goals in both games last weekend, Kevin Marx Norén became the second Wilderness player to notch a game-winning goal in two consecutive games.  Joe Cesario came through with game-winners on Sept. 17 (vs. Bismarck) and Sept. 30 (vs. Anchorage) in games that finished in overtime.

Erickson Apples: For the second time in his career, forward Charlie Erickson has completed a 3-game span with an assist in each game. After notching a helper Jan. 14 at Wisconsin, the Two Harbors, MN, native assisted on both of the GWGs scored by Marx Norén last weekend, along with Beau Janzig’s first period goal Saturday.

Loons on Loan: With so many players hobbled and out of the lineup going into last weekend’s contests, the Wilderness brought in two from the NA3HL’s Minnesota Loons to add depth to the lineup.  Carson Liebaert is a defenseman added to help with a defensive corps that has four players on the injured list. Liebaert is an 18-year-old native of Rosemount, MN, who played in both games last weekend.

After forward Joe Cesario and Adam Johnson were added to the list of hurt players after Friday’s game, forward Willem Kerr made his first appearance in a Wilderness uniform Saturday.   Kerr is 16-years-old and hails from Toronto.

Puckstopping Posch:  Goaltender Isak Posch ought to be used to facing a barrage of shots from the Chippewa. For the 2nd time this season, Posch started both games of a weekend series vs. the Steel, and both weekends faced a combined total of over 76 shots.  On Nov. 18-19, Posch faced 83 shots in a weekend split with Chippewa; and last weekend, he faced 77 shots and won both games. In his Saturday victory, he registered season highs with 43 saves on 44 shots.

30-Year Blues: While the Wilderness are celebrating 10 seasons in the NAHL this season, that number pales to the amount of seasons Springfield, IL, has been the home of the Jr. Blues.  The Springfield franchise is the oldest in the NAHL, with this being its 30th season in the league. The Jr. Blues have played every year since 1993, with the exception of 2020-21, when it sat out the campaign due to government COVID-19 restrictions. Springfield has claimed two Robertson Cup titles throughout its history—back-to-back championships in 1996 and ’97.