The Wisconsin Windigo, proud members of the North American Hockey League, completed their first NAHL Entry Draft on June 15, 2022. Head coach Blake Hietala and assistant coach Casey Kirley executed the draft with the help of their scouting staff. Due to trades made by the Minnesota Magicians’ organization prior to sale of the team and their move to Eagle River, WI, the Windigo were allotted nine picks in the first eleven rounds of the draft. The NAHL Entry Draft is held at the conclusion of each season. Teams are eligible to draft 16 to 20-year-old players who are not protected by other teams in the NAHL.
The teams first pick was 38th overall, coming in the second round, and was used to select Mario DiMaggio of St. Louis, MO. The 6’-1/2” 183-pound defenseman played four games for Youngstown in the United States Hockey (USHL) league last season, with the majority of his playing time with the Tier 1 St. Louis Jr. Blues 18U team.
The Windigo’s next picks came in the fifth round, 118th and 126th overall. Those picks netted Luke Levandowski and Callan Budinger, two forwards who will add speed and tenacious forechecking to the front line. Levandowski is a Rosemount, MN, native who played for Sioux Falls and Chicago in the USHL last season. Budinger, hailing from DePere, WI, competed for Team Wisconsin 18U AAA and concluded his season with the Jamestown Rebels of the NAHL.
Budinger expressed his excitement when coach Hietala informed him he had been selected. “I am thrilled to be drafted by the Windigo. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to play in the NAHL in my home state. I can’t wait to hit the ice in the Dome. It’s a great old barn with impressive upgrades and lots of history. I’m looking forward to our fans rocking the place and make it tough for visiting teams.”
In the 6th round, the Windigo selected defenseman Devin Nabozny of Colorado Springs, CO. Nabozny was the captain of his Fox Motors 18U AAA team last season during which he recorded 17 goals and 23 assists in 64 games.
With their 7th round pick the focus switched to goaltending and chose St. Louis, MO, native Benjamin Behrens. Behrens suffered the injury bug last season, but saw playing time with Lincoln in the USHL as well as Bismarck and New Mexico of the NAHL.
For their next three picks the Windigo directed their focus across the pond by selecting three Europeans. Defenseman Albin Sibbesson of Sweden’s Fronlunda Hockey Club (J20 Nationell) was chosen along with his teammate forward Victor Widlund. To complete the Scandinavian trifecta, the Windigo drafted forward Patrick Isiguzo of Espoo, Finland.
“We feel good about the three Europeans we have taken in the draft. All are twenty-year olds who will bring experience and superb skills to our team. We are grateful to our European
hockey network for having identified Albin, Victor and Patrick, as prospects for our team,” stated coach Hietala.
The final pick was used to select Charles Larsen of Minot, ND. The 6’2” defenseman competed for Bismarck in the NAHL and Alexandria Blizzard of the NA3HL this past season.
With the 2022 Entry Draft complete, the Windigo look forward to their main tryout camp August 4-7 in Anoka, MN.
“We still have needs to address. We had two great pre-draft camps over the last two weekends. We saw an exceptional level of competition at those camps. We will invite a number of those players to compete at our main camp for roster spots,” concluded coach Hietala.