Midwest Division rival Kenai River Brown Bears traveled 3,456 miles from Soldotna, Alaska, to the Dome in Eagle River to take on the Windigo. Kenai entered the weekend in 3rd place in the Midwest Division with a 16-14-1 record. The Windigo held 6th place in the division with a 14-13-1-1 record going into the two-game set. Kenai took two games from the Windigo at the Dome on September 30 and October 1, by identical scores of 4 to 3. The teams last met in Alaska on October 21 and 22, when the Brown Bears swept that series by the scores of 2 to 1 (in overtime) and 5 to 0. The weekend was highlighted by the ceremonial puck drop on New Year’s Eve by NASCAR driver Natalie Decker. Ms. Decker is an Eagle River native and self-described “Super Fan” of the Windigo.
Will Schumacher and Luke Levandowski named Stars of the Week:
Midwest Star of the Week: Will Schumacher
Playing in his first game in over a month, forward Will Schumacher, 18, made a big impact in the weekend home sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears. The 5’11/170 lbs. native of Prior Lake, MN, had five points in the two wins. On Friday, he had two assists and on Saturday, he had the game-winning goal and two assists. For the season, Schumacher is 2nd in team scoring with 22 points in 21 games played. “Will has been an offensive threat for us all season and had another good weekend. He’s been a big part of our recent success and we lean on him in a lot of different situations,” said Windigo head coach Blake Hietala. Schumacher had been on loan to the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL for the past 4 weeks.
2nd Star: Luke Levandowski: Levankowski continued his hot hand scoring 1 goal and 1 assist on Friday and contributed 3 assists on Saturday. The 6’0”/170lbs. native of Rosemount, MN, leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 12 assists in 19 games played for the Windigo.
Friday, December 30: Kenai River 0 at Wisconsin Windigo 7 Both teams came out flying and maintained a fast pace throughout the game on legs that appeared to be well rested from the holiday break. The Windigo jumped out to take the lead at 5:22 of the first period when Zach Burfoot found Zach Cline dropping into the md-slot from where he released a quick wrister that beat the Brown Bear’s goalie to the glove side. Daniil Dolzhenko was credited with the second assist. The Windigo took advantage of a power play opportunity at 3:45 of the second period on Luke Levandowski’s 12th goal as a Windigo when he fired a bullet to the top far corner of the net. Will Schumacher and Dolzhenko assisted on the goal. The Windigo increased their lead to 3 at 9:14 of the second when newcomer Max Martin fired a shot on net after carrying the puck up ice and firing a shot on net just after gaining the offensive zone. Paul Huglen and Everett Pietila assisted. That opened the flood gates 30 seconds later, as Victor Widlund forced a turnover in the neutral zone and tipped the puck to Drew Fisher who in turn fed the puck to speedster Zach Cline as he reached the net to tip it past the Brown Bears netminder. The onslaught continued in the 3rd period when Pietila scored on a one timer off a precision pass from Widlund. Martin was credited with the second assist. Ben Anderson’s daunting net front presence paid dividends once again, when he scored his 5th power play goal of the season, with the assists going to Schumacher and Levandowski. Zach Cline concluded the scoring with his hattrick goal of the game on the power play, from Pietila and Groebner. Gavin Moffatt was stellar in net once again with his 4th shutout of the season, turning away all 28 shots he faced. “I am pleased with our total team effort tonight. We forced turnovers, beat the opposition to the puck, executed great passes and took advantage of our scoring opportunities. Our power play was clicking. I’ve said it previously, when our guys are performing to their ability opponents have a very difficult time dealing with our team speed. I believe our team depth is second to none in this league and it showed tonight,” commented head coach Blake Hietala after the game. “Moffat played outstanding in net for us again tonight,” continued Hietala. For his part, Gavin Moffatt was gracious in victory and shared credit with his teammates during a postgame interview for HockeyTV. “Every shutout is a team effort…everyone is doing their part, the forwards are picking up coverage and the defensemen have been playing great, making it easier on me,” noted Moffatt.
Saturday, December 31: Kenai River 3 at Wisconsin Windigo 4 The rematch on Saturday was a completely different game, marked by physical play and a total of 17 penalties. Kenai struck first 7:25 into the game off a Windigo miscue behind their net. Axel Begley (from Levandowski and Schumacher) tied the game less than five minutes later on a blistering shot from the faceoff dot to the far top corner of Kenai’s net. Once again, Ben Anderson’s imposing net front presence on the power play paid dividends as he received a pass at the top of the crease and buried the puck under the Kenai goal tender. Levandowski and Schumacher assisted on Anderson’s goal. Just 4:15 into the second period, Burfoot scored his 5th goal of the season (from Martin and Anderson) to put the Windigo up 3 to 1. Kenai responded 8:29 into the third to cut the Windigo lead to 1 goal. Schumacher put the Windigo up by 2 at the 13:57 mark with this 7th goal of the season with a nice wrister from the mid-slot. Schumacher’s goal was set up by yet another spin-o-rama move and precise pass by Victor Widlund. Kenai closed out the scoring at 15:48 with their goalie pulled. Max Beckford recorded his 8th win of the season in net, with 25 saves on the 28 shots he faced.
Up Next: January 13 and 14- The Minnesota Wildnerness visit the Dome The Windigo will host Midwest Division leading Minnesota Wilderness on January 13 and 14. All first responders will be granted free admission on Friday. Puck drop is at 7pm both nights. 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.