This will be the first meeting of the season between the Michigan Warriors and the Wenatchee Wild, with the Wild leading the all time series 1-0 since Michigan joined the NAHL in 2012-2013, with the only meeting between the two teams coming in the league showcase when Wenatchee won 3-0. The Wild will have their work cut out for them this weekend, as the Warriors are 5-1-4 through their last 10 games and are led in scoring by Jake Hopfner with 15 points, coming in the form of eight goals and seven assists. Other weapons for the Warriors include Jon Farkas with 10 points from four goals and six assists and Alec Pellegrino with nine points on four goals and five assists. Wenatchee will have to find a way to stop the formidable scorers of Michigan and they will need stellar play from Gustaf Johansson in goal, as he is coming off a strong outing against Fairbanks last weekend, in which he made 36 stops in the win on Friday and added 28 saves in Saturdays tilt.
Aside from the personal battles on the ice, this series is important for the Wild to get their season back on track, if they hope to get back to the playoffs and build on last season. Wenatchee is currently two points behind Coulee Region and the Minnesota Magicians in the race for fourth in the NAHL's Midwest Division. These two games against Michigan at the Town Toyota Center on Friday and Saturday will wrap up a seven game home-stand in which the Wild have seen their share of ups and downs, with a seven game winless skid being snapped with their win last Friday against the Ice Dogs. They regained some confidence with a sweep last weekend of Fairbanks and would like to keep that momentum going with a good outing against the Warriors to end their home stand in the win column.
Trey Bradley, Troy Loggins and Nick Rivera all scored goals, while Gustaf Johansson grabbed 36 saves in his season debut on Friday night. The Wild followed up the slump-ending win with another solid performance in which Bradley added another goal and Gadel Gumerov found the back of the net, while Johansson got 28 saves in route to the Wild's sweep of their rival Fairbanks.
Wenatchee is right where they want to be going into the final stretch of their seven game home stand and it would be huge for them to close it out with another sweep and move up two more games in the Midwest Division standings. Wenatchee went one for eight on the power play and eight of eight on the penalty kill against Fairbanks. The Wild have been shorthanded 83 times so far this season, which is good for eighth in the NAHL. They have been on the power play 90 times ranking sixth in the league in opportunities. Officials whistled 70 minutes of penalties in the two games, but only 25 of those minutes were on Wenatchee. The Wild will look to play with a high hockey IQ again this weekend, limiting costly mistakes and increasing their odds of taking the wins away from Michigan.
The Wild is 10th in the NAHL in penalty kills ranking with 87.95%, while the Minnesota Wilderness lead all teams with 100% on 56 of 56. The Wild have allowed just 10 power play goals on the year, twelfth fewest in the league, behind the Wilderness. The Wild have scored 3 shorthanded goals, tied for third in the league and on the power play Wenatchee ranks third at 21.11%, allowing just two shorthanded goals.
Troy Loggins looks to have a big series this weekend, as he leads the team with 5 goals and 10 assists for a total of 15 points on the year. Trey Bradley is coming off a big weekend against rival Fairbanks and would like nothing more than to provide the fans in the Town Toyota Center with an encore performance, as he has 8 goals and 6 assists on the year, good for 14 total points and Parker Tuomie has 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points. The Wild have continued to develop throughout the year and have gotten clutch play from Loggins as he has score 4 power play goals and three players have game winning goals. The play of goalkeeper Gustaf Johansson will be pivotal in the Wild's success this weekend as his 1.50 goals against average will be on display against the fast paced Michigan offense.
The series begins Friday November 8th and wraps up Saturday November 9th at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee.