Windigo Jump to 2-0 Game Lead in First Round of Playoffs – Series moves to Chippewa for Game 3 on April 28

Apr 25, 2023

The Windigo hosted the Chippewa Steel for the first two games of the Midwest Division semi-final round of the playoffs.  The Windigo prevailed in two closely contested games by the scores of 4-1 on Friday and 2-1 in dramatic fashion in overtime on Saturday.  The highly anticipated matchup of some of the top goaltenders in the league lived up to its billing.  Max Beckford earned both victories in net for the Windigo, stopping 70 of the 72 shots faced over the two games. Adam Gajan played well in net for Chippewa, stopping 61 of 66 shots on his net.  Gajan demonstrated why he is rated 6th by NHL Central Scouting among North American goaltenders. Both goalies made several spectacular saves over the weekend.

Friday, April 21: Chippewa Steel 1 @ Wisconsin Windigo 4 – The Windigo opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the first period when Zach Burfoot intercepted a Chippewa outlet pass and dished the puck to Ben Anderson as he was crashing the next.  Anderson redirected the pass to slip past Chippewa netminder Adam Gajan.  Six minutes later in the period, Chris Kernan tipped Drew Fisher’s shot from the top of the circle into the corner of the net.  Sam Jacobs drew the second assist.  In the middle frame, Chippewa applied relentless pressure, outshooting the Windigo 16 to 6 in the period.  Chippewa’s J.J. Grainda (8:30) scored to get the Steel on the board, 2-1. In the third period it was all Wisconsin.  At 8:09 of the third, Zach Cline’s speed was on full display as he drove the net and scored (from Everett Pietila and Mario DiMaggio) a short-handed goal to extend the lead to 3-1. Late in the period, Chippewa pulled their goalie in favor of a sixth attacker. Victor Widlund (from Will Schumacher and Sam Groebner) scored an empty netter from 120 feet away at 18:44 for the final goal of the game. Goaltender Max Beckford turned away 36 shots in the win.

Saturday, April 22: Chippewa Steel 1 @ Wisconsin Windigo 2 (OT)  – The Windigo extended their series lead to 2-0 as the result of a 2-1 overtime victory. Patrick Isiguzo opened the scoring for the Windigo at 3:08 of the first period, tapping home a loose puck in the crease.  Luke Baker’s and Victor Widlund’s efforts in cycling the puck below the goal line were rewarded as they earned assists on Isiguzo’s goal.  Chippewa’s Tomas Trunda evened the game 1-1 at 13:12 of the second period.  Chippewa outshot the Windigo 9 to 4 in the third period but were unable to solve Max Beckford’s play in net, forcing the game into overtime.  Superb penalty killing has been a hallmark of the Windigo all season long.  The penalty killing unit went to work in overtime when Frank Jenkins took a slashing minor 5:02 into the extra frame.  Even after the penalty expired, the Steel continued to apply pressure in the Windigo zone, until Sam Jacobs intercepted a pass and headed up ice.  He was joined by Cole Michel and Drew Fisher on a 3 on 1 rush.  As they entered the offensive zone, Jacobs slid the puck to Mickel, who seemed to freeze Gajan with what looked to be a shot, but instead slid the puck back to Jacobs who tucked it into the net.   Beckford stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced in the contest to earn the win. Steel goalie Adam Gajan made 40 saves in the loss.

Coach Hietala’s Comments: “We had a task to accomplish this weekend – that was to maintain home ice advantage.  An opponent like Chippewa is very capable of engineering a road victory and we were fortunate to hold them at bay.  In Friday’s game, they really took it to us in the second period.  We had a difficult time getting the puck out of our zone for long stretches.  Max Beckford made several great saves when we needed them.  I was pleased with our energy and distributed scoring.  All four lines put up goals on Friday. Our penalty kill has been exceptional all regular season and held true to form in these two playoff games.  We were 7 for 7 on the penalty kill this weekend and Zach Cline’s short-handed goal on Friday was a bit of a back breaker for them.  Saturday’s overtime victory was huge for us.  Jacobs’ give and go with Cole Mickel was a spectacular sequence and Jacobs did a fantastic job converting on the play. Our speed, grit, and team depth ultimately provided the edge we needed to win this weekend,” commented coach Hietala after Saturday’s game.

Playoff Format and Home Schedule: The divisional playoffs are the best of 5 series, to be played in a 2-2-1 format.  The series now shifts to Chippewa Falls, WI, for game 3 of the series on Friday, April 28.  The Windigo need to win one more game to clinch the series and move on to the Midwest Division championship.  Game 4 (if necessary)  will be held in Chippewa on Saturday, April 29, and game 5 (if necessary) will be hosted by the Windigo on April 30. at 6pm at the Dome in Eagle River.  Tickets for Windigo home games are available at or at the door.