The Gillette Wild head to Missoula, Montana for a two-game series against the Junior Bruins this weekend.
They haven’t lost a regular game since the first game of the regular season on Sept. 13 when they were dropped 7-1 at Great Falls, Montana.
“On paper, when I really looked at the schedule, we could have arguably been 4-3,” Wild coach Steve Kruk said about his expectations of the team at the start of the season. “They really responded to adversity, played a very good hockey team, stayed in it for 60 minutes.”
Since rallying in the second game and splitting the series with the Great Falls Americans, the Wild (6-1) have taken six-straight victories to put the team at No. 2 in the Frontier Division.
The Wild faced the Junior Bruins (3-4) in the first regular season home series of the season, and won both games, though the weekend was mired by over 40 penalties and 175 total penalty minutes between the two teams.
Three game misconducts were given out, and many of the penalties were aggressive, aggravated penalties like roughing and head contact.
This weekend, the series is at Missoula’s facility, the Glacier Ice Rink, and the Wild have stressed staying out of the penalty box.
“They’re a gritty team, and if they’re going to go in the box, they’re going to try to take one of us with them,” Wild captain Ethan Becker said. “That’s their MO. That’s what they’re going to try to do, and we’ve got to learn from it and try and be better and stay out.”
A player to watch for on the Junior Bruins is forward Cayce Balk, who has eight goals and two assists in six games played. He’s one of the only Junior Bruins who hasn’t taken a penalty all year.
Gillette Wild newcomer Anthony Seykora and second-year goaltender Shane Phillips have both started games for the Wild in the crease and each have 3-0 records. However, any of the four goaltenders could get the nod to start either game this weekend, Kruk said.
After the games at Missoula Friday and Saturday, the Wild come back to Spirit Hall Ice Arena in Gillette to play the Butte Cobras, which the team beat 6-2 and 9-2 last weekend on the road.
“There’s one word to describe it, and I think that’d be passion,” Wild forward and first-year Wild player Garrett Formhals said about how the team has been able to win six-straight. “Everybody on this team has a passion for the game, and when everybody is on the same page, I think we mesh well.”