An early season NA3HL non-division series showdown between a pair of undefeated teams, both of which have postseason aspirations, is on tap this weekend here in Gillette.
The Gillette Wild (4-0) and Granite City Lumberjacks (3-0) will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. tonight and Saturday night at Spirit Hall Ice Arena. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. on both evenings.
Gillette is coming off a season that saw the team reach the Fraser Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Wild will be facing a Lumberjacks group that reached the Fraser Cup Championship finals, eventually falling to the Rochester Grizzlies 4-0 in the championship game.
Thru their first three contests this season, Granite City is averaging just over five goals on 40 shots a night. The Lumberjacks are led in scoring by defensemen Kyle Mortensen. The Wayzata, MN native has eight points, scoring four goals, two coming on power plays, and assisting on four others.
Granite City has started two different goalies in their first three games. Xander Roberts, from Green Bay, WI, has won both his starts stopping 37-of-41 shots he has seen. Ryan Wallin, from Ham Lake, MN, has the other Lumberjacks victory in a contest he turned away 31-of-34 shots he faced.
The Lumberjacks special teams unit is leading the West Division, having scored seven goals on a dozen power play opportunities. Their penalty kill has allowed a single goal while killing off the other eight penalties when they’ve been shorthanded.
Gillette has averaged just under eight goals a game, on 68 shots a night. The Wild are being led in scoring by Saizha Norwegian, and Isaac Young, both of which have ten points on the season. Norwegian, from Warroad MN, has scored three goals, two on power plays, and recorded seven assists thru four games. Young, a Fergus Falls, MN product, has scored a power-play goal and collected nine assists.
Four different goalies have started in the net for Gillette this season. North Branch MN native Jake Turek opened the season stopping all 28 shots he faced against Bozeman. Dominic Hite, from Baldwin, WI, turned away 35-of-36 shots he faced securing the opening series sweep of the Icedogs. Cole Wheaton, from Calgary AB, grabbed the first road win in net in Rapid City, SD, saving 27-of-28 shots he faced from Badlands. Weston Gerke, a product of West Salen, WI, locked down the weekend series sweep of the Sabres, stopping 23-25 shots in the 9-2 victory.
Gillette sits atop the Frontier Division special team units scoring 16 goals on their 34 power play opportunities. The Wild have killed off all 20 of their opponent’s power play opportunities thru the first four games of the campaign.