Windigo Split Opening Weekend of Round 2 -Series Moves to Cloquet for Games 3&4 on May 12&13

The Windigo hosted the Minnesota Wilderness in the opening weekend of Robertson Cup Midwest Division Championship competition on May 5 and 6.  This series features the top two Midwest Division teams based on regular season standings.  Wisconsin finished the regular season with 81 points, followed by the Wilderness with 77 points.  Wisconsin held the edge in regular season matchups, winning 8 of the 10 games the teams played against each other.  The Wilderness prevailed 1-0 on Friday.  The Windigo responded in dramatic fashion on Saturday with a thrilling overtime victory by the score of 3-2, in front of a large crowd of 651 fans at the Dome in Eagle River.  The best of five series now moves to Cloquet, MN, for games 3 and 4 on May 12 and 13.  If necessary, game 5 will be played in Eagle River on Sunday, May 14, at 6pm.

Friday, May 5: Minnesota Wilderness 1 @ Wisconsin Windigo 0 – Game 1 of the series was a tight checking affair, typical of playoff hockey.  The first period saw Minnesota outshoot Wisconsin 8 to 5, primarily due to two power play opportunities by Minnesota.  Steller penalty killing, a hallmark of the Windigo all season, kept the Wilderness off the scoreboard.  The Wilderness outshot the Windigo in the second period as well 15 to 11 and found the back of the net with 6:45 remaining in the middle frame.  That would be the only goal of the game. The Windigo killed all 3 penalties assessed against them in the second period.  Seeking to tie the game, the Windigo came out strong and dominated play in the third period, in which they outshot Minnesota 10 to 5.  The Windigo pulled netminder Max Beckford with 1:24 remaining in favor of a sixth attacker but failed to capitalize on a few opportunities in the waning moments of play.  Beckford recorded 27 saves in the loss.  Umea, Sweden native and St. Cloud State University commit, Isak Posch, stopped all 26 shots he faced in net for the Wilderness. “Obviously, it’s a disappointment to drop the first game of the series at home.  For the most part, the effort was there tonight. We controlled the game for long stretches. We seemed out of sync at times and took some undisciplined penalties.  I liked our push in the third period to try to tie the game.  We had difficulty setting up our power play and creating scoring chances with the man advantage.  We will work on that.  I was pleased with our defensive effort and Beckford’s play in net,” commented Windigo head coach Blake Hietala after Friday’s game.

Saturday, May 6: Minnesota Wilderness 2 @ Wisconsin Windigo 3 (OT) – With Windigo regular season leading goal scorer Luke Levandowski out with illness, coach Hietala was forced to juggle lines in an attempt to find much needed offense.  The line of Max Martin, Ben Anderson and Zach Burfoot stepped up to fill that role.  Martin scored just 36 seconds into the game when he redirected a backhand shot from Anderson. Burfoot drew the second assist on the play. Several minutes later, the Windigo appeared to score again when the puck clearly crossed the goal line.  The goal judge indicated a goal had been scored.  In a conversation with the referees, the goal judge was adamant that the puck had clearly crossed the line, but for some inexplicable reason, the goal was disallowed.  Martin scored his second of the game with just under a minute to play in the first period, to put the Windigo up 2-0.  The Windigo outshot the Wilderness 10 to 6 in the first period, and then again 13 to 10 in the second period.  With 5:45 remaining in the second, Adam Johnson scored to cut the Wilderness deficit in half.  An evenly played third period saw the teams each place 8 shots on net.   The Wilderness tied the game at 12:31 of the third period, just 3 seconds after a penalty against Windigo co-captain Jon Bell expired, sending the game to overtime.  Just one minute into overtime, Max Martin won a puck battle deep in the Wilderness’ zone and fed the puck to Sam Groebner on the point.  Groebner quickly slid the puck over to Jon Bell who one-timed a slap shot on net.  Wilderness netminder Isak Posch made a pad save but the rebound came right to the stick of Windigo assistant captain Victor Widlund. The Lerum, Sweden native, fired the puck past his fellow Swede to send the Windigo fans into a frenzy. Widlund’s game winner just 1:12 into overtime was his team leading 3rd goal of the playoffs.  “What can I say after a game like that. We won,” exclaimed an exhausted but exuberant coach Hietala after the game.  “I was much more pleased with our effort tonight.  We cycled the puck down low in the offensive zone very well and that resulted in scoring opportunities for us. Martin stepped up and had a monumental game for us, up and down the ice.  Anderson and Burfoot worked well with him.  But it was truly a team effort tonight.  Our penalty kill was superb once again.  And what can I say about Victor?  He has been a clutch performer all season.  Finally, our defensive core played well once again and Beckford was outstanding in net.”

Up Next – Midwest Championships of Robertson Cup Playoffs: The Windigo travel to Cloquet, MN, for games 3 and 4 of the best of five game series on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13.  Game 5, if necessary, will be on Sunday, May 14, at 6pm at the Dome in Eagle River, WI.  Tickets for Windigo home games are available at or at the door.