One night after serving his shortest term in goal this season, Isak Posch responded the way a veteran netminder should. Friday night, the Umeå, Sweden, native allowed three goals in eight shots, and was pulled at the 12:47 mark of the first period, as the Wilderness fell, 6-1, to the Janesville Jets. In Saturday night’s rematch, Posch kept the Jets from leaving the runway, stopping all 22 shots in a 3-0 Minnesota victory.
Kevin Marx Norén led the way offensively with two goals, while Oliver Stümpel finished with one goal and one assist.
Stümpel scored what ended up as the winning goal near the midway point of the opening period. Hunter Bulger helped set up the tally when he skated into Janesville territory on the right side, drew traffic to his right, and dished the puck to his left as Stümpel entered the zone. The Torrance, CA, native evaded one defender with a toe drag move and whipped the puck past Jet netminder Peter Sterling for his ninth red-lighter of the season. Simon Houge also assisted on the goal that came with 8:12 left in the frame and gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead that it carried all the way until the latter stages of the 2nd frame.
The Wilderness added to its lead after a series of penalties led to it getting a 4-on-3 power play that fit right into Marx Norén’s wheelhouse. The veteran forward from Knivsta, Sweden, scored both of his tallies from the circle to the left of the Janesville goal on one-time shots. Sawyer Scholl set him up on this first with 3:37 remaining in the 2nd frame, while Stümpel and Gustavs Ozolins helped on Marx Norén’s 2nd of the game just 59 seconds later.
The two power play tallies for Marx Norén allowed him to make Wilderness history. He now has 14 with the man-advantage this season, which sets a new franchise record, breaking the previous mark of 13 held by Tyler Cline during the team’s national championship 2014-15 season.
For the season, Marx Norén now has 30 goals, 29 with the Wilderness which leaves him just two shy of the team’s overall single-season goal mark. Darian Romanko currently holds the record (also from 2014-15) of 31.
Posch went to work in the third and performed flawlessly. The Jets delivered 11 shots that got through to the goal, and Posch fought them all off to preserve the shutout. Janesville (23-26-9) had an 11-5 shot advantage in the final period, while Minnesota (32-17-7) finished the game outshooting the Jets, 27-22.
The win improves Posch’s record to 23-12-6 and moves him within just one victory from tying another franchise record—of single-season goaltender victories (held by Ryan Anderson from 2014-15).
On special teams, the Wilderness finished 2-for-4 on the power play, while the penalty-kill was perfect in Janesville’s three chances with the extra man.
The victory Saturday allowed Minnesota, who clinched a spot in the NAHL’s Robertson Cup playoffs Friday night, to remain just four points behind the first-place Wisconsin Windigo in the Midwest Division. The Wilderness will get a chance to close that gap next weekend, when it hosts the Windigo in a 2-game weekend series. Those contests will be Thursday and Friday nights at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, with puck drop scheduled for 7:15 p.m.