After being swept by the Kenai River Brown Bears the previous weekend, the Windigo sought to get back on a winning path as they traveled to Cloquet, MN, to take on the Midwest Division leading Minnesota Wilderness. With the weekend sweep, the Windigo propelled themselves to third place in the Midwest Division, just 2 points behind the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and 4 points behind the Wilderness. The Windigo have 3 games in hand over Fairbanks and 1 game in hand over Minnesota.
Friday, February 3: Wisconsin Windigo 5 @ Minnesota Wilderness 2: The Windigo got the scoring started just over 5 minutes into the contest when Chris Kernan scored his 5th goal of the season. Sam Jacobs and Drew Fisher picked up the assists. The Wilderness answered with 2 goals of their own in quick succession, to put the Windigo down 2-1. Max Martin tied the game late in the first period with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Frank Jenkins and Zach Burfoot. The second period found the Windigo back on their heels, as the Wilderness peppered Windigo goalie Max Beckford with 16 shots on net, while the Windigo managed only eight shots of their own. Beckford was up to the task and the second period ended in a 2-2 tie. Windigo forward Ben Anderson put the Windigo up for good, scoring his 11th of the season (from Martin and Sam Groebner) at 8:38 of the third period. Chris Kernan (from Groebner and Drew Fisher) scored just over two minutes later, to put the Windigo up 4-2. Zach Burfoot added an unassisted empty net goal with 7 seconds remaining to secure the win for the Windigo. Max Beckford had a strong performance in net for the Windigo, recording his 11th win of the season, turning back 35 of the 37 shots he faced.
Saturday, February 4: Wisconsin Windigo 4 @ Minnesota Wilderness 3 (OT-Shootout): The Wilderness seemed destined to take revenge on their loss the previous night, as the ice seemed to tilt in their favor right from the first drop of the puck. The Wilderness scored 3 unanswered goals and found themselves with a comfortable 3 goal lead halfway through the game. The Windigo forwards seemed to struggle generating quality chances, so their colleagues on the blueline took over the scoring duties. Windigo defenseman Axel Begley scored his 4th goal of the season just over 11 minutes into the second period on a slapshot from the far boards. Mario DiMaggio and Zach Burfoot were credited with the assists. At 14:46 of the second period, defenseman Daniel Dolzhenko scored his 3rd goal of the season (from Burfoot and Cole Mickel) to close the gap to 3-2. Begley’s second tally of the night, at 11:09 of the third period, tied the game and forced overtime. Patrick Isiguzo and Everett Pietila assisted on the play. After five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime play, in which Windigo goalie Gavin Moffatt stopped all 7 shots he faced, the game headed to a shootout to decide the victor. Luke Levandowski was the hero in the shootout, as he was the sole goal scorer for the Windigo, Moffatt was stellar in net, stopping all 3 Minnesota attempts in the shootout to secure the win. He made 31 saves in 65 minutes of play, earning his 12th win of the season. Windigo head coach Blake Hietala was thrilled with the weekend sweep. “To come in here and take 4 points from the Wilderness is a huge accomplishment. It wasn’t pretty and we struggled at times throughout the weekend. The Wilderness had a lot to do with that. They are a very good team. We had several guys step up and contribute offensively. It was great to see the balanced scoring we displayed. Beckford and Moffatt played well and got the job done for us in net,” commented Hietala after Saturday’s game.
Up Next: The Windigo return home to play February 9 -10, to take on the Anchorage Wolverines. Puck drop is at 7pm on February 9 and 6pm on February 10. 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.