New ice, new coach: Minnesota Wilderness skate into Day 1 of training camp

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Wrapping up their season just three months ago the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Minnesota Wilderness are already getting back to work. They dropped the puck on their first day of training camp Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s really good. I love being part of the community up here in Cloquet, and I guess this year the surrounding areas too. It just means a lot. There’s a lot of rich history with the logo and it just feels good to wear it,” forward Adam Johnson shared.

However off the bat they’re starting their season battling adversity. Due to ice cooling issues at their Cloquet home of Northwoods Credit Union Arena the Wilderness are hosting their early practices at Superior’s Wessman Arena.

They’ll later move to Proctor’s St. Luke’s Sports and Event Center, one of many Northland arenas the team said offered up their ice time.

“Oh, it’s huge. All the boys are appreciating it. I mean, without them, we wouldn’t be skating yet and we all want to skate. It’s a huge support that they’re giving to us,” Duluth native, Wilderness defenseman Joe Stauber said.

29 skaters will take to the ice for their first three days of practice this week.

They’re being led by new head coach Colten St. Clair, who was hired in June. He previously played in Fargo under former University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) men’s hockey assistant/associate head coach Jason Herter, whose lessons St. Clair now returns to the Northland.

“He’s really good at finding talent and getting the best out of some high-end players. I think that’s an important asset to have, you get high-end players they’re used to that. Can you put them through some tougher situations and teach them to be a little bit more team oriented and get more out of them? And that’s kind of something I’ve really taken from him. So it’s good,” St. Clair shared.

The Wilderness have two preseason games scheduled against the Austin Bruins, one September 1 in Austin, Minn. and the next September 2 in Proctor.