A meeting between the last two teams to claim the NAHL’s Midwest Division will mark the opening of the 2023-24 Minnesota Wilderness season.
The Wilderness will kick off the new campaign on Sept. 9 when it hosts the Anchorage Wolverines at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet at 7:15 p.m. Minnesota enters this season as the defending Midwest Division playoff champions, while Anchorage won the playoff division championship in 2022.
The league released the schedule for all 32 of its teams Wednesday. The docket details the 56 non-NAHL Showcase games Minnesota will be playing.
This will mark the Wilderness’ 11th season in the NAHL and the 12th season of Jr. hockey in Cloquet. Sept. 9 will also mark the beginning of the Colten St. Clair era as Minnesota’s 6th head coach since the franchise entered the NAHL.
Other notable dates on the 28-game home schedule include the annual Thanksgiving Eve contest on Nov. 22, which will again feature the Chippewa Steel as the Wilderness’ opponent.
After taking New Year’s Eve off in 2022-23, the Wilderness will again ring in the new year with a game on the last day of December. Minnesota will host Janesville in what will be the second of a 2-game home series on Dec. 30 and 31.
The Wilderness schedule also includes two trips to the state of Alaska. Its first trek up north will be Oct. 6, 7, 13 and 14; and the team will return to the 49th state for games on March 15, 16, 22 and 23.
The Wilderness will play its first road game at an opponent’s home building on Sept. 23 at Chippewa.
Minnesota’s first rematches vs. its 2023 divisional playoff opponents will be Oct. 13 at Kenai River, and Nov. 17 vs. Wisconsin.
The Wilderness will also be competing at the annual NAHL Showcase set for Sept. 13-16 in Blaine, MN. Minnesota’s four opponents for those dates have yet to be announced.
Minnesota’s main tryout camp is set for July 13-16 at Wessman Arena in Superior, WI, with a goalie camp scheduled for July 11 and 12.