Windigo Sweep Opening Round of Playoffs vs Steel – Second Round Play Commences Friday, May 5, in Eagle River

May 3, 2023

The Windigo closed out the first round of the Robertson Cup Midwest Division semi-finals on the road by defeating the Chippewa Steel 4-2 on Friday night in Chippewa Falls, WI.  The three game sweep in the best of five series allows the Windigo a couple of days of much needed recovery from various injuries and illness prior to hosting the Minnesota Wilderness on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6.  Max Beckford earned all three victories in net for the Windigo during the series, making 117 saves and allowing just 4 goals in three games versus the Steel.  The Wilderness punched their ticket to the second round of the playoffs by defeating the Kenai River Brown Bears 2-1, in overtime on Saturday evening, in Soldotna, Alaska.

Friday, April 28: Wisconsin Windigo 4 @ Chippewa Steel 2 – With both teams trading chances in the early going, Victor Widlund put the Windigo up 1-0 at 7:11 of the first period.  Widlund’s goal was the result of a quick transition initiated deep in the Windigo zone by defenseman Cole Mickel when he fed a pass to Luke Levandowski to start the breakout.  Levandowski, in turn, passed the puck to Widlund as he crossed through the neutral zone and carried the puck into the Steel’s zone.  Widlund then executed what has become his trademark behind the back pass back to Levandowski, who was driving down the far boards.  Widlund curled into the low slot, where Levandowski found his stick with a pass.  Widlund chipped the puck past Steel goalie Adam Gajan.  That would be all for the scoring in the first period, with Chippewa outshooting the Windigo 9-7.  Facing elimination, Chippewa came out strong in the second period, outshooting the Windigo 16-9.  Chippewa scored twice to go up 2-1 just over 4 minutes into the middle frame. Everett Pietila tied the game for the Windigo with a wrist shot that found the back of the net at 15:42 of the second.  Cashen Naeve set up Pietila’s goal by carrying the puck deep into the zone and then circling behind the net.  Naeve found Pietila in the mid-slot and executed a precision tape to tape pass. Patrick Isiguzo earned the second assist on the play.  Pietila scored again (unassisted) at 2:35 of the third period to put the Windigo in the lead for good.  Pietila’s shot from behind the goal line deflected off Gajan’s stick and into the net.  With just over a minute left in the third period, Chippewa pulled their goalie in favor of a sixth attacker. Victor Widlund won a defensive zone draw and chipped the puck up to Will Schumacher. Schumacher released a shot from inside his zone that found the back of the net to seal the victory.  Windigo goaltender Max Beckford turned away 32 shots in the win.  Adam Gajan had 31 saves in net for the Steel.

Coach Hietala’s Comments: “It is great to get the series sweep and give our guys some time off before the next round.  We have seen all of our lines contribute offensively in this series.  The line of Widlund, Schumacher and Levandowski, stepped up tonight.  Pietila’s line with Isiguzo and Cline made some key contributions tonight as well.  While I am happy with the win, we played at best an average game tonight.  We were undisciplined with the puck at times. Fortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize on too many of those turnovers.  We lost a bit of structure in our play as well, missing assignments and doing too much looping out there.  Chippewa is a very good team.  Their play likely contributed to some of the struggles we experienced tonight,” commented Windigo head coach Blake Hietala after the game on Friday.  “Beckford was great in net all series.  We have been battling illness and injuries the last several days.  I’m glad we were able to close out the series such that we have a couple of days rest prior to commencing preparations for the Wilderness.  We can play much better, our best hockey is in front of us,” continued coach Hietala after Saturday’s game.

Up Next – Round 2 of the Robertson Cup Playoffs: The Windigo have home ice advantage in the best of 5 series with the Minnesota Wilderness, to be played in a 2-2-1 format.  Games 1 and 2 of the series will be held at the Dome at 7pm in Eagle River on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6.  Game 3 will be hosted by the Wilderness on May 12 in Cloquet, MN.  Game 4 (if necessary)  will also be in Cloquet on May 13.  Game 5 (if necessary) will be hosted by the Windigo on May 14 at 6pm at the Dome.  Tickets for