Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Chippewa Steel
When: April 14 and 15; 7:00 p.m. each night
Where: Chippewa Area Ice Arena, Chippewa Falls, WI
The lead: The Minnesota Wilderness and Chippewa Steel meet to close out the 2022-23 campaign and potentially preview an upcoming playoff series.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Records: Chippewa: 31-23-4; Minnesota: 33-18-7
Midwest Division standings
|3||Kenai River (x)||66||58|
x=clinched playoff spot; y=clinched first place
Last weekend: Chippewa stamped its ticket for the post-season with a 4-1 road win over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs last Saturday night. On the previous night, Fairbanks was victorious, 3-0.
Minnesota split a pair of home contests vs. Wisconsin. The Windigo prevailed Thursday (April 6), 1-0, while the Wilderness bounced back Friday, 3-2.
Home playoff clinched: Friday’s victory over Wisconsin guarantees the Wilderness will get home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Robertson Cup playoffs. This marks the first time since 2017 Minnesota will have home-ice advantage in a playoff series. In that 2017 playoff, the Wilderness fell to Aberdeen in five games in the Central Division final.
Potential Playoff preview: If the playoffs were to start this weekend, the Wilderness and Steel would meet in a first round series. Due to being tied in points and wins with Kenai River, Chippewa would get the third seed because it won the season series over the Brown Bears.
Season series: Minnesota has won five of the previous eight contests vs. Chippewa, four games finished after regulation, and all but one was within a one-goal margin.
|1||Nov. 18||MNW 4, CHP 3 (OT)||Chippewa Falls, WI|
|2||Nov. 19||CHP 5, MNW 2||Chippewa Falls, WI|
|3||Nov. 23||MNW 2, CHP 1 (SO)||Cloquet, MN|
|4||Dec. 9||CHP 4, MNW 3 (SO)||Chippewa Falls, WI|
|5||Jan. 20||MNW 4, CHP 3||Chippewa Falls, WI|
|6||Jan. 21||MNW 2, CHP 1||Cloquet, MN|
|7||March 17||CHP 2, MNW 1||Cloquet, MN|
|8||March 18||MNW 2, CHP 1 (SO)||Cloquet, MN|
Thoreson/Marx Norén/Posch Record Watch: Forwards Gunnar Thoreson and Kevin Marx Norén have both begun to set new franchise records this season and have a shot at breaking others. Thoreson is now the team’s leader in career games played, while Marx Norén has set a new single-season power play goal mark. Goaltender Isak Posch is also re-writing the record book by tying Ryan Anderson’s 2014-15 single-season record of 24, as well as setting new marks in games played (43), minutes played (2567), and shootout victories (4). Below is a look at other records Posch, Thoreson and Marx Norén are in reach of in the final two regular season games.
|Player||Category||Record (current record holder)||Player Total (w/Wilderness)|
|Thoreson||Career Points||112 (Luke Dow)||107|
|Thoreson||Career short-handed points||6 (Thoreson & Dan Litchke)||6|
|Marx Norén||Single-season goals||31 (Darian Romanko)||30|
|Marx Norén||Single-season game-winning goals||8 (Jakob Romo)||6|
|Posch||Single-season wins||24 (Posch and Ryan Anderson)||24|
|Posch||Single-season shots against||1269 (Ryan Fanti)||1227|
|Posch||Single-season saves||1165 (Ryan Fanti)||1135|
Top of the Power Play Heap: Marx Norén’s 14 power play tallies are not only the most ever scored in a single season for a Wilderness player, they also lead the entire league for 2022-23. The native of Knivsta, Sweden, has one more PPG than Rihards Simanovics of Amarillo and four other players with 12.
- Chippewa forward J.J. Grainda announced this month he will play division 1 college hockey at Stonehill College.
- This season marks the first time the Steel will head to the NAHL playoffs since the franchise moved from La Crosse, WI, (when it was known as the Coulee Region Chill) in 2018-19.