Who: Minnesota Wilderness vs. Wisconsin Windigo
When: May 12 and 13, 2023, 7:15 p.m. both nights; if necessary, May 14, 2023, 6:00 p.m.
Where: May 12 and 13 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet, MN; May 14 at Eagle River Sports Arena, Eagle River, WI
The lead: After splitting games 1 and 2, the Minnesota Wilderness and Wisconsin Windigo could close out the Midwest Division Finals in games 3 and 4 in Cloquet.
Media: All of the action can be seen on Hockeytv.com.
Regular Season Records: Wisconsin: 39-18-3; Minnesota: 35-18-7
Other NAHL Playoff Series: One other division final series is tied at 1-1. In the Central, St. Cloud and Austin traded wins last weekend in Austin, with games 3 and 4 coming this weekend in St. Cloud. In the East, Maryland leads Maine 2-games-to-none, with game 3 coming up Friday in Maine. Oklahoma also holds a 2-0 lead in the South finals over Shreveport with game 3 set for Friday in Shreveport, LA. Each division final series winner will meet for the league semi-finals beginning May 19 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, MN.
Last weekend: In game 1 last Friday in Eagle River, the Wilderness took the first series lead with a 1-0 victory. In game 2 Saturday, the Windigo countered with a 3-2 win in OT to even the series.
Posch Makes Shutout History: The game 1 shutout victory was notable not just because it was Isak Posch’s first time blanking an opponent in a NAHL playoff game. It also was the first road shutout posted by a Wilderness goaltender in a playoff game since the team’s championship season. Prior to Friday, the last time the Wilderness shut out a playoff opponent on the road was when it clinched the Robertson Cup title on May 16, 2015. Brock Kautz held off all 26 shots the Austin Bruins put on net in game 2 of the league finals, as the Wilderness won 4-0 and swept the championship series, 2 games to none.
Premier Goaltender Duel: After two stellar outings in the first two games of this series, Isak Posch and Max Beckford have performed as advertised for the Wilderness and Windigo, respectively. If the two get the nod in net this weekend, this will be the only series featuring two of the top 4 playoff goaltenders in the league. Posch and Beckford currently hold the the 3rd and 4th best goals-against averages in the playoffs, with Posch at 1.19, and Beckford at 1.35. The two netminders also hold the best save percentages of all back-stoppers who have played in five playoff games, with Beckford at 95.9 and Posch at 95.8.
Rare SHG: When Adam Johnson scored his short-handed goal Saturday night, it ended two different SHG droughts for the Wilderness franchise. It marked the first tally for the team’s penalty kill since Dec. 9, when Ren Morque scored on the Chippewa Steel, and it is the franchise’s first playoff SHG scored on the road since the 2016 post-season. Before Johnson lit the lamp Saturday, Casey Gilling’s goal scored in Janesville on April 16, 2016, had been the last Wilderness road playoff SHG.
Marx Norén Named All Midwest Div: The NAHL named its all-division teams for all four of its divisions Wednesday. Kevin Marx Norén was honored for his team record-breaking season as a forward on the All Midwest Division squad. Marx Norén completed the regular season with 34 goals and 26 assists for 60 points over 58 games. He led the Wilderness in all three categories and tied for the league lead in goals. 33 of his goals were scored with the Wilderness, which set a new single-season franchise record.
Windigo Notes/Moffatt Honored by League: Windigo goaltender Gavin Moffatt has yet to appear for his team in the playoffs, but that did not keep him from being mentioned by the league for the Midwest Division awards Wednesday. Moffatt was named as the netminder to the All Midwest Division team and awarded as the division’s rookie of the year. Over 30 games during the regular season, Moffatt posted a 21-7-2 record with five shutouts, a 2.00 GAA and .938 save percentage, which led the NAHL.
More league awards will be announced Thursday.