The best of the best are typically those who set team records, and Friday night, Isak Posch displayed why his name is populating the Minnesota Wilderness record book.
The veteran goaltender turned aside 25 of 26 Chippewa Steel shots and was masterful in the final minutes in leading the Wilderness to a 2-1 victory. That win is the 25th of the season for the native of Umeå, Sweden, which sets a new team record for single-season wins by a netminder (originally set by Ryan Anderson in 2014-15).
That adds to a plethora of marks Posch had already established before Friday’s contest. He also now holds Wilderness records in games played (44), minutes (2,627) and shootout wins (4) within one regular campaign. If he plays Saturday night’s regular season finale, he will have an opportunity to move ahead in shots against and saves – both of those marks are held by Ryan Fanti from the 2018-19 season.
Offensively, Minnesota (34-18-7) saw tallies from Kevin Marx Norén, who also made history, and Reid Daavettila. For Marx Norén, it was his 32nd goal overall, and 31st with Minnesota, which ties the team’s mark for goals in a single season (set in 2014-15 by Darian Romanko).
Marx Norén’s goal 45 seconds into the third period broke a 1-1 tie and was the game-winner. After taking a stretch pass from Max Wattvil at the right side of the Steel blue line, Marx Norén just within the right circle and fired a blistering shot that whipped past Chippewa (31-24-4) goaltender Adam Gajan’s right side.
Posch then bailed out the Wilderness with two brilliant saves in the final minutes to help preserve the victory. The first came with 3:50 left when he snagged a Logan Cleary shot from the slot, and the glove came through again to keep Peyton Platter from tying the game with 1:30 remaining.
Both teams were scoreless in the opening frame. Daavettila lit the lamp on a power play 8:53 into the 2nd. The rookie from Howell, MI, was the beneficiary of some slick passing, as Gunnar Thoreson and Bo Cosman helped set him up. It was a one-touch pass from Cosman that got the puck to Daavettilla in the slot, as he beat Gajan on the glove side with a one-timer for his fifth of the season.
For Thoreson, that assist gives him 108 career regular season points, which leaves him four behind the franchise mark of 112 set by Wilderness all-time leader Luke Dow .
Chippewa responded just under four minutes later when J.J. Grainda tied the game with 7:19 left in the middle frame. Posch had appeared to stop a shot Grainda took as he drove to the net, but the puck snuck through his pads, and Grainda was there to slip it into the back of the night, with assists from Talan Blanck and Shawn Ramsey.
Minnesota outshot the Steel 32-26 and won the special teams battle. The Wilderness finished 1-for-3 on the power play and extinguished two Chippewa chances.
Posch’s record in net now sits at 25-13-6.
Marx Norén’s goal Friday not only gives him a chance to overtake Romanko as Minnesota’s single-season record holder, he will also have an opportunity to finish as the NAHL’s goal-scoring champ. The Knivsta, Sweden, native is just two goals behind Chase LaPinta of Minot for the league lead. That chance will come Saturday night, when the Wilderness closes out the regular season at Chippewa with a game set for 7:00 p.m.