Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Kenai River Brown Bears
When: April 28 7:30 p.m. AK time and if necessary, April 29; 7:30 p.m. AK time and April 30, 5:00 p.m. AK time
Where: Soldotna Regional Sports Center, Soldotna, AK
The lead: The Minnesota Wilderness and Kenai River Brown Bears resume their best-of-five Midwest Division Semifinal series Friday night with the Wilderness leading 2-games-to-none.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Regular Season Records: Kenai River: 32-24-4; Minnesota: 35-18-7
Other Midwest Division series: The top seeded Wisconsin Windigo holds a commanding two-games-to-none lead over the fourth-seeded Chippewa Steel after sweeping the first weekend in Eagle River, WI. Game 3 will be in Chippewa Falls, WI, Friday night. The winner of each semifinal series will meet in the Midwest Division Finals beginning May 5.
Last weekend: The Wilderness won two close contests over the Brown Bears in Cloquet. On Friday, Minnesota took game 1, 3-1, and followed with a 2-1 victory in Game 2, Saturday.
Dominant Defense: Through the first two games of the playoffs, the Wilderness has allowed the second fewest amount of goals so far in the playoffs. The two goals Minnesota has allowed ties Wisconsin for 2nd in this season’s NAHL playoffs. Only the Central Division’s St. Cloud Norsemen, with only one goal allowed, has allowed opponent’s to score less often.
PPG Leader: After posting two goals on the man-advantage last weekend, forward Reid Daavettila is tied for the league lead in power play tallies. The Howell, MI, native is tied with three other players atop the PPG category.
Scoring Rarity: Daavettila’s two PPGs last weekend helped the Wilderness achieve a post-season first. The two playoff games marked the first time Minnesota opened a playoff series by scoring a power play marker in each of the first two games of a post-season series.
Rare Playoff Position: By winning Saturday, the Wilderness took a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five playoff series for the first time since 2015. It also marks the first time ever Minnesota has held a 2-0 lead in a division semi-final series. The only other time the Wilderness won the first two games of a best-of-five series was in the 2015 Midwest Division Final vs. Fairbanks, a series which Minnesota wound up winning in a three-game sweep.
Posch Near the Top: Goaltender Isak Posch again finds himself near the top of the league statistics after his stellar play last weekend. After giving up only two goals over the two games, Posch holds a 1.00 goals-against-average, which is fifth among all post-season netminders, and third among all who have played two games.
Killer PK: The Wilderness penalty kill could not have started the post-season much better. Minnesota kept the Brown Bears scoreless in its four chances over games 1 and 2. That places Minnesota among six teams league-wide to post a 100% PK through the opening playoff weekend.
Kenai Notes/Angry Den: The Wilderness can expect to encounter a hostile atmosphere this weekend in Soldotna. Friday’s game will mark the first time since April 9, 2014, that Kenai River has hosted a playoff game at its home arena. The Brown Bears played nine post-season games in 2021, but all home games were held in Blaine and Andover, MN, due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting capacity at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. In its most recent truly home playoff game, the Brown Bears were victorious over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 4-3. However, it was the Ice Dogs that prevailed by winning the series, 3-games-to-2.