Windigo Sweep the Jr. Blues – Home Ice Advantage Secured for Round 1 of Playoffs

Windigo Sweep Home Series with the Jr. Blues  

Home Ice Advantage Secured for First Round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs

Playoffs Commence in Eagle River on April 21 and 22

Accompanying Photos:  (Above) Jacob Jastrzebski (#9) and Patrick Isiguzo (#19) apply pressure in the offensive zone.  (Below) Connor Mahony (#8), Chris Kernan (#11) and Zach Cline (#4) battle for the puck.  Will Schumacher (#3)positions himself in front of the net.


The weekend sweep over the Springfield Jr. Blues, and results of other games in the hotly contested Midwest Division, finds the Windigo assured of no less than second place in the final standings.  As a result, the Windigo have home ice advantage for the first round of the Midwest Division playoffs.  The Windigo will host a yet to be determined opponent on April 21-22 at 7pm in Eagle River, WI.  The Windigo are in first place in the division with 75 points, followed by the Minnesota Wilderness (71 points), Chippewa (64 points) and Kenai River (63 points).  The upcoming two-game series in Cloquet, MN, has the potential to solidify the final standings between the Windigo and the Wilderness.  The top 4 teams in the division advance to the playoffs upon conclusion of the regular season.

Friday, March 31: Springfield Jr. Blues 2 @ Wisconsin Windigo 6:  Having been eliminated from the playoffs, the Jr. Blues were in spoiler mode at the Dome.  They opened the scoring 6:52 into the game.  Chris Kernan tied it up with 7 minutes remaining in the opening frame.  Connor Mahony applied an aggressive forecheck to gain control of the puck below the goal line and fed it over to Drew Fisher.  Fisher found Kernan all alone on the far side and dished the puck to him for the goal.  Less than 2 minutes later, Springfield scored again to close the period with a 2-1 lead.  The Windigo held the shot advantage 14 to 9 in the first.  Kernan scored again at 18:51 in the second period to tie the game.  Once again, Mahony and Fisher combined to set up Kernan as he crashed the net and released a quick backhander from the low slot.  Fisher scored what turned out to be the game winner on the power play on a one-timer from the off wing.  Axel Begley and Daniil Dolzhenko set up Fisher’s goal at 1:37 of the third period.  Max Martin scored a power play goal on a shot from Fisher that appeared to deflect off his body and into the net.  Begley drew the second assist on Martin’s goal.  Martin scored his second consecutive goal to put the Windigo up 5-2 at 9:20 of the third.  This time, it was Will Schumacher who applied the forecheck that caused a Springfield defender to turn over the puck just inside his blue line, allowing Martin pick up the loose puck and score his 15th goal of the season.  Martin returned the favor minutes later when his pressure on a Springfield defender created a turnover for Schumacher to pounce on.  His wrister from the top of the circle closed out the scoring.  The Windigo outshot Springfield 41-18.  Netminder Max Beckford earned his 16th win of the season.

Saturday, April 1:  Springfield Jr. Blues 2 @ Wisconsin Windigo 3 (OT-Shootout): In Saturday’s re-match, the Jr. Blues attempted to assert their spoiler roll once again, scoring the only goal of the first period.  Windigo defenseman Axel Begley scored his 9th goal of the year to tie the game 3 minutes into the second period.  Begley’s shot from the top of the circle was set up by Luke Baker and Victor Widlund.  Springfield regained the lead, 2-1, on a power play with just 3:11 remaining in the game.  As time wound down, the Windigo found themselves on the power play with an offensive zone faceoff.  Head coach Blake Hietala called a time out to draw up a play and pulled his goalie for a 6th attacker.  After a remarkable play by defenseman Cole Mickel to keep  the puck in the offensive zone, Will Schumacher found Frank Jenkins at the far side of the net.  Jenkins buried the puck with 39 seconds left to send the game to overtime.  Five minutes of 3 on 3 overtime failed to settle the contest.  Schumacher scored on the first shootout attempt for the Windigo.  Windigo goalie Gavin Moffatt stopped Springfield’s first shootout attempt.  Drew Fisher scored on the Windigo’s second shootout opportunity.  Moffatt shut down the next Springfield attempt to earn his 20th win of the season.  Moffatt had 23 saves, while the Windigo placed 26 shots on Springfield’s netminder.

Coach Hietala’s Comments: “In Friday’s game we came out a little sluggish.  We started using our speed and tenacious forecheck in the third.  We are cable of creating turnovers which lead to scoring chances.  Players like Mahony, Schumacher, Fisher and others, turned the tide tonight with their effort.  It was great to see Matin and Kernan be rewarded for their hard work and picking up two goals each,”  commented Windigo head coach Blake Hietala.  “On Saturday, Springfield gave us all we could handle.  Taking a penalty late in a 1-1 tie is never a good idea.  We were fortunate that they took a penalty and gave us the opportunity on the power play to tie it up.  Schumacher and Fisher got the job done in the shootout and Moffat was, once again, a force in the shootout.”

Up Next: The Windigo hit the road for the final 4 games of the season.  They face the Minnesota Wilderness on April 6-7 and the Springfield Jr. Blues on April 14-15.