The Janesville Jets outshot and at several moments outplayed the Minnesota Wilderness Friday night, but could not solve goaltender Niklas Erickson. The Jets sent 30 shots toward the rookie netminder Saturday night, and he stopped them all to earn his first junior hockey shutout in a 1-0 victory.
Kevin Marx Norén recorded the game’s only goal. The Knivsta, Sweden, forward notched his 27th of the season on the power play with 2:41 left in the first. Two swift passes led to the puck coming to Marx Norén. The first came from Sawyer Scholl, as he was positioned in the right circle, to Oliver Stümpel, just to the right of the Janesville net, who fed it to Marx Norén as he was positioned directly in front of the net. Marx Norén beat goaltender Selby Warren with a one-time shot that zoomed into the net on Warren’s glove side.
Both teams had difficulty generating quality chances through most of the game, but Erickson did have to be sharp on some occasions. The Apple Valley, MN, native held off Gustav Portillo on two opportunities when he got past the Wilderness defense in the first period, and another 2nd period opportunity for Teddy Merrill early in the second.
The Jets outshot the Wilderness 30-18, with 23 of Janesville’s attempts on goal coming in the final two periods.
The Wilderness (31-16-7) finished one-for-three with the man-advantage and kept Janesville (22-25-9) scoreless on its two power play chances.
Minnesota also stretched its streak of scoring the game’s first goal to 11.
The win improved Erickson’s Wilderness record to 2-1 (his NAHL mark is now 3-1).
Minnesota and Janesville will shift locations to play at Janesville next weekend. A two-game series at the Janesville Arena will begin Friday at 7:00p.m.
Playoff chase update: The Wilderness win, combined with Anchorage’s Saturday loss to Springfield, reduced Minnesota’s magic number to clinch a Robertson Cup playoff berth to three. While Fairbanks sits in 5th place in the Midwest Division with 59 points, it is impossible for the Ice Dogs to catch the Wilderness, who sit in 2nd at 69. But 6th place Anchorage, who has eight games left on its schedule with 55 points, could finish with 71 points and still overtake Minnesota and finish in the division’s top four, thereby still qualifying for the post-season.
The magic number can be reduced by two points for every Wilderness win, or for every Anchorage loss in regulation. It can be reduced by one point for every Wilderness or Anchorage overtime/shootout loss.
Anchorage has one more game this weekend, Sunday at home vs. Springfield.