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 Minnesota Wilderness

Nelson Stamps Name on Springfield's Home Ice as Wilderness Roll

February 18, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Minnesota Wilderness News Release


Right now, there are no plans for the city of Springfield, IL, to rename the home of the Springfield Jr. Blues from the Nelson Center to the "Peyton Nelson Center", yet Minnesota Wilderness forward Peyton Nelson made a good argument for it Saturday night.

Nelson registered four points, including his first career Jr. hockey hat trick, in leading the Wilderness to a 6-2 pounding of the Jr. Blues.

Nelson deposited one goal in the second and two more in the third period that were part of a barrage that allowed the Wilderness to break the game open. Over the final 7:29, Minnesota scored four times to earn the victory.

Nelson, in his second season of Jr. A from Centennial, CO, posted his first goal with 1:35 left in the middle frame. While on a two-on-one break with Daniel Astapovich, Nelson skated into the Jr. Blues zone on the right side and roofed a shot past Springfield goaltender J.J. Cataldo to give the Wilderness its second lead of the game at 2-1.

Nelson then completed the hat trick by scoring the final two goals of the contest.

His second tally came from a rush that developed into a 4-on-1 break with Astapovich, Alessandro Lurati and Joe Manning getting around all but one defender. It began with Astapovich and Lurati entering the offensive zone, and Nelson and Manning trailing. Astapovich carried the puck across the middle of the Springfield blue line and delivered a pass to Lurati at the right circle. Nelson then swooped in and positioned himself right in front of the net between Cataldo and the left post where he caught a perfect pass from Lurati to tap it in and make it 5-2 with 1:55 left.

Forty seconds later, Nelson would score his third goal on an empty net to make it 6-2.

Nelson's assist came in the first period. The Wilderness opened the scoring thanks to a power play goal from Beau Janzig. Nelson and Joe Cesario set up the goal that Janzig finished with a blast from the high slot with 56 seconds remaining in the stanza for his third red-lighter of the campaign and second in the weekend series.

For Nelson, these are his first three tallies since coming to the Wilderness in his 11th game with the squad.

Springfield (15-22-6) kept fighting back for most of the game. Andon Coles scored both Jr. Blue goals-his first coming 4:49 into the second period to even the score at 1, and then his second 7:53 into the third period on the power play to tie it at 2.

The Jr. Blues were also aided by Cataldo's spectacular goaltending. The veteran finished the game with 40 saves-with 33 of them in the first two periods. The Wilderness outshot Springfield 46-23 and had a 35-15 shot advantage through the game's first 40 minutes.

That all changed when Minnesota (25-17-4) began its third period scoring spree. Oliver Stümpel broke the tie and scored what ended up being the game-winner with 7:29 left in the contest. After taking a long outlet pass from Nick Blood at the Springfield blue line, Stümpel charged toward the net and slipped the puck past Cataldo, and then crashed into the goaltender and dislodging the net.

Officials at first did not rule the play a goal, but then changed their ruling after reviewing video replay.

The goal is Stümpel's 11 th of the campaign and was also assisted by Janzig.

Hayden Walters then stretched the Wilderness advantage to two when he beat Cataldo on a shot from the slot. HIs first goal since joining the Wilderness (in his 9 th game after being acquired from Kenai River) came with 2:45 left in the third and was assisted by Janzig and Nate Murray.

Nick Erickson earned his 12 th win of the season in net stopping 21 of 23 Springfield shots.

On special teams, both teams converted once on the man-advantage-with the Wilderness getting five chances and Springfield getting four.

Both teams had players ejected. Game misconducts were handed out to Minnesota's Nolan Bettens (for helmet removal) and Springfield's Logan Ganz (for boarding).

The Wilderness now has three victories in its last four games. It will carry that momentum into a 2-game series next weekend when it faces off against 2nd place Janesville. Those contests will be Feb. 23-24 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.


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