Wilderness Kick Off Final Alaska Trek with Pair at Kenai

Who:  Minnesota Wilderness vs. Kenai River Brown Bears

When: March 3-4; 7:30 p.m. each night (AK time)

Where: Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, Soldotna, AK

The lead:  The Wilderness seek to tame a red hot Brown Bear squad that has won its last 4.

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

Records:  Kenai River: 25-20-3; Minnesota: 24-15-7

Midwest Division standings

Team Points Games played
1 Wisconsin 59 46
2 Fairbanks 57 48
3 Minnesota 55 46
4 Kenai River 53 48
5 Janesville 51 48
6 Anchorage 49 46
7 Chippewa 46 45
8 Springfield 43 45

Last weekend:

  • Kenai won all three games in a Thursday-to-Saturday home series vs. Janesville by scores of 3-2, 6-3 and 4-3(OT).
  • The Wilderness split a pair of home games vs. Springfield. The Jr. Blues posted a 5-3 win, Friday, followed by a 4-1 victory for Minnesota, Saturday.

 Season series: Minnesota and Kenai River faced off on three previous occasions this season.  The series opened Nov. 5 in Kenai River with the Wilderness winning, 2-1.  That was followed by a pair of games in Cloquet that ended in a shootout Jan. 6-7. Minnesota captured the Friday game, 4-3, while the Brown Bears countered to win Saturday, 1-0.

Thoreson Record Watch:  After skating in both games last weekend, forward Gunnar Thoreson is now 2nd all time in games played in a Wilderness uniform.  The 3-year veteran’s 151 regular season games is 7 behind all-time leader Luke Dow’s record of 158.  Thoreson also trails Dow in career points and assists—he is tied for 2nd with 102 points with Darian Romanko, 10 behind Dow’s record of 112; and is all alone in 2nd in assists with 68, 14 behind Dow’s mark of 82.  In goals, Thoreson has 34, which is 5th all time, 17 behind Romanko’s record of 51.

 Goose Posts 2nd GW: Defenseman Gustavs Ozolins is making the most of the goals he has scored thus far this season.  Of the three goals posted by the native of Riga, Latvia, two have been game-winners.  His third goal of the campaign came last Saturday with 14:11 left in the third period, and it resulted in being the game-clincher. It’s also his first time lighting the lamp since returning from a 2-month absence due to injury and to play for his home country in the World Junior Championship.  In 29 games, Ozolins now has 3 goals and 15 assists for 18 points in 2022-23.

Gordon hits double-digit assists:  In his first two seasons with the Wilderness, Cole Gordon recorded a total of 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists).  This season, he has surpassed that mark in assists alone. The forward from Windsor, CO, posted 1 goal and 1 assist last weekend—with his helper Friday night on Max Wattvil’s tally being his 10th of the season.  The goal he scored Saturday night was his 8th, giving him 18 points on the campaign.

 Back-to-back for Daavettila: Earning on assist on Gordon’s Saturday night goal was forward Reid Daavettila—which was his third helper for the 2-game series.  It marked the 2nd time the rookie registered back-to-back points in his junior hockey career – repeating his 3-point performance Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

Wattvil Nets First NAHL Goal: When Max Wattvil stretched twine in the 2nd period Friday night, it marked his first red-lighter since coming to the Wilderness from the USHL.  The native of Stockholm, Sweden, now has points in 3 straight, and a total of four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 5 games with Minnesota (while only playing 1 period in his first game on Jan. 1, when he suffered an injury).

Brown Bear Notes—The Brick Wallstrom: It’s not very often a goaltender gets to play every minute for his team in a 3-game weekend series, but Nils Wallstrom did just that last weekend for Kenai River.  And he proved to be up to the task. The native of Skelleftea, Sweden, started each game for the Brown Bears in their 3-game sweep of the Janesville Jets.  It was not easy as the Jets peppered Wallstrom with a combined total of 145 shots—38 in game 1, 46 in game 2, and a whopping 61 in game 3, and Wallstrom responded with 147 saves over the weekend. Wallstrom has started Kenai’s last 15 games – a streak dating back to Jan. 6.  The Brown Bears are rolling having won their last 4 and with points in their last 5.