The Wisconsin Windigo traveled 476 miles south to Springfield, IL, to take on the Springfield Jr. Blues. The Windigo continued their winning ways as they swept the series. As a result, the Windigo enhanced their lead in the hotly contested Midwest Division with a total of 63 points. Minnesota (59 points), Fairbanks (57), and Kenai River (53), round out the top 4 teams in the division.
True Hockey NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Max Beckford, Wisconsin Windigo (Excerpts regarding Beckford’s award are courtesy of the NAHL)
The Wisconsin Windigo vaulted themselves to the top of the Midwest Division thanks in large part to a big month from goaltender Maxwell Beckford. The 20-year-old from London, ON, won all four of his starts during the month, allowing just seven goals in the four wins, which was good for a 1.75 goals against average during the month. Beckford stopped 137 of a possible 144 shots, which was good for a .951 save percentage during the month. He also had a 34-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wilderness on February 17th. For the season, Beckford has a 14-11-1 record in 26 games played with a 2.73 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He has won seven of his last eight starts. “Max had a great month and was a big part of our group’s success. He’s worked hard at his game and has improved all season and it’s nice to see him rewarded for it,” said Windigo head coach Blake Hietala.
“I believe our success starts with the attitude and compete levels that the guys in our locker room come to the rink with every day. Everyone is looking to push each other in practice which translates to us playing our best during games. This is a testament to our coaches who have instilled this work ethic into our group since the start of the year. This month was a true challenge for our team as we played one of the top teams four times. We came into the games with the mentality that we can play with anybody as long as we stick to our structure and execute on the little details that make this team successful. I’m excited to continue growing with this group as we close out the regular season preparing to make a deep playoff run,” said Beckford. “I’m striving to get better and improve on and off the ice. In the short term my goal is to finishes off the regular season strong and help my team to stay atop the Midwest division, ultimately winning the Robertson Cup. Long term I look forward to competing at the NCAA level, furthering my athletic and academic career. In the future I look forward to the challenge of competing at the highest professional level.”
Friday, March 3: Wisconsin Windigo 3 @ Springfield Jr. Blues 1: After a scoreless first period, in which the Windigo outshot the Jr. Blues 11 to 6, the Windigo scored first 11:27 into the second period. Ben Anderson’s dominant net front presence on the power play resulted in his 12th goal of the year as he redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Cole Mickel. Luke Levandowski drew the second assist on the play. Will Schumacher lit the lamp again on the power play for the Windigo just 37 seconds later. His wrist shot from the high slot slid under the crossbar for his 11th goal of the season. Mickel and Anderson drew the assists. With just over 7 minutes left in the third, Patrick Isiguzo made it 3-0 for the Windigo with a spin-o-rama chip shot to the top of the net. Luke Baker and Cashen Naeve assisted. Max Beckford’s bid for a shutout was spoiled with just over a minute left in the game. Beckford recorded 26 saves, for his 15th win of the season. The game was a hotly contested affair with 17 penalties whistled during the night, 8 of which were against the Windigo.
Saturday, Wisconsin Windigo 4 @ Springfield Jr. Blues 2 : In Saturday’s re-match, the physical and chippy play continued, with 15 penalties assessed during the game. Victor Widlund starting the scoring with his 10th of the year, just 4:37 into the game. The play was initiated by Luke Levandowski carrying the puck up ice and into the offensive zone, where he found Widlund driving to the far post. Widlund redirected Levandowkis’s pass to the back of the net. Will Schumacher picked up the second assist on the play. “That play was a classic example of what the Widlund, Levandowski, Schumacher line can do on any given night. They are one of the best forward lines in the league,” commented Windigo head coach Blake Hietala afterwards. Springfield responded with two goals of their own in the first, closing the period with a 2-1 lead. The Windigo launched their comeback with a shorthanded goal by defenseman Frank Jenkins at 7:38 of the second period. Ben Anderson and Mario DiMaggio drew the assists. The comeback continued when defenseman Cole Mickel scored on the power play 11:44 in the middle frame. Levandowski and Widlund assisted on the play. Will Schumacher scored an empty netter (from Cashen Naeve and Axel Begley) with just over a minute left in the game. Windigo netminder Gavin Moffatt earned his 15th win of the season, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Widlund (1g,1a), Schumacher (1g,1a) and Levandowski (2a) each finished the game with 2 points on the night. “Our special teams did a great job this weekend, scoring 3 times on the power play and once shorthanded. Our penalty kill has been good all year and now our power play is clicking again. Frank’s and Cole’s contribution with goals from the blue line helps a lot, especially with teams keying on our top line. Our goaltending was stellar again this weekend. We are fortunate to have two of the best goalies in the league,” added Hietala.
Up Next: The Windigo hit the road for the second consecutive weekend to face the Janesville Jets on March 10-11. The next Windigo home games are March 17-18, as they host the Janesville Jets at the Dome in Eagle River, WI. Puck drop is 7pm. Tickets are available online at www.wisconsinjuniorhockey.com/tickets or at the door. Limited reserve section access is available for $15 and general admission is $10.