Oct 24, 2022

Windigo Lose In Overtime and then in Regulation to Kenai River

Up Next: Team Heads Further North to Face the Anchorage Wolverines

The Wisconsin Windigo traveled 3,462 miles to Soldotna, Alaska, to face the Kenai River Brown Bears in a two-game series last weekend.  A newcomer to the Windigo traveled even further to play his first game in the North American Hockey League.  Luke Levandowski was acquired from the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League on Tuesday, October 18.  Levandowski commenced his 4,118 mile journey to Alaska the next day commencing with a 12-hour drive from Youngstown, Ohio, to Minneapolis. From there he boarded a plane to take him to Anchorage.  After a 3-hour drive from Anchorage to Soldotna, the newest Windigo joined his team late Thursday night.  Levandowski is a native of Rosemount, MN, and is committed to pay D-1 hockey at the University of Wisconsin next season.

Friday, October 21: Wisconsin Windigo- 1 at Kenai River- 2 (OT) –  As the score would indicate this game was a closely contested match; however, this wasn’t the case in the third period.  First period shots on goal favored the Windigo 11 to 9, but it was the Brown Bears who struck first six minutes into the game.  After an evenly matched and scoreless second period, Levandowski’s long trip proved worthwhile as he tied the game nine minutes into the third period.  His highlight reel goal commenced inside the Windigo zone when he received the puck off a pass from Windigo defenseman Cole Mickel and headed up the ice.  As he entered the Brown Bears’ zone, he split two defenders and drove to the net.  He lifted the puck past Kenai goalie Bryant Marks from the top of the goal crease.  “From the time Luke picked up the puck, you had a sense that he wasn’t going to be denied on that rush.  He split two defenders with a great move and drove hard to the net.  For him to make that kind of play after traveling two straight days and arriving here just 18 hours before game time demonstrates the type of character and competitive spirit he has,” commented Windigo head coach Blake Hietala. “That’s the type of play that I felt Luke capable of when I drafted him last June. I’m just glad he became available to us now,” continued Hietala.  “It was great to help my new teammates with that goal.  It took a couple of periods to shake the road legs, but I felt stronger as the game went on,” explained Levandowski after the game. “I’m looking forward to getting to know my teammates and I can’t wait to play in front of our fans in the Dome when we get back to Eagle River.”    Levandowski’s goal appeared to wake the Brown Bears as they carried the play the balance of the third period.  Windigo goalie Max Beckford  was called upon to make 20 saves in the third and pushed the game into overtime.  Kenai’s Kotaro Tsutsumi, who hails from Tokyo, Japan, put an end to the Windigo comeback effort when he scored on a breakaway 56 seconds into overtime. Beckford made 38 saves on the 40 shots he faced and picked up an assist as well.  “Max played his best game of the year for us.  He carried the team on his shoulders during the third period.  I can’t ask for much more from him,” offered coach Hietala. 

Saturday, October 22:  Wisconsin Windigo- 0 at Kenai River- 5 – After a heartbreaking loss on Friday, the Windigo came out flying on Saturday night.  They dominated the first 10 minutes of the game but failed to convert on several scoring chances.  Kenai scored once in each of the first two periods, then scored three times in the third to close out a 5 to 0 win.  The game was marred by 21 penalties and a very ugly incident in which Windigo star forward Zach Cline was injured in the first period. Cline was checked heavily from behind by a Kenai player who charged the width of the ice without breaking stride and left his feet to hit Cline into the boards.  Kline will be out 2 to 4 weeks with an upper body injury. “That was a very dangerous play that doesn’t belong in the game,” commented coach Hietala.  The Windigo outshot Kenai River 34 to 28 in the game but where shutout for the fifth time this season.

Up Next: October 28 and 29 – Anchorage Wolverines – The Windigo head north to take on the Anchorage Wolverines on Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29.  Receiving no mercy from the schedulers, the Windigo will then return to the lower 48 states for away games against the Chippewa Steel on November 4 and 5.  The Windigo finish their longest road stint of the season in Janesville, WI, against the Jets on November 11 and 12.