Windigo take three of four at NAHL Showcase
BLAINE, Minn. — The Wisconsin Windigo opened their season with the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, where they earned three wins in four outings.
After dropping their opener to the Northeast Generals, 6-3, the Windigo defeated the New Jersey Titans, 3-0, the Lonestar Brahmas, 2-1, and the Minot Minotauros, 2-1.
“I’m pleased to come out of here with three wins in four games,” said coach Blake Hietala. “This event is a grind on everyone involved.
The Generals were the only team to finish the weekend without a loss, so Hietala was encouraged by his team’s performance.
“As it turns out, our only loss was to the only team in the Showcase to win all four or their games,” he said. “I felt we could have won that first game, too. We came out strong with our team speed and forecheck showing what we are capable of.
“Our wins were the result of total team effort and strong goaltending. We’ll work to continue that trend as we look forward to our six-game homestand starting this weekend.”
The Windigo stormed out of the gates in their opener on Wednesday. They struck twice in the first period thanks to goals from a pair of defensemen, Erick Comstock and Daniil Dolzhenko.
The Generals scored five straight goals before forward Tyler Grahme got the Windigo back within two 11:43 into the third. The Generals then added an empty net goal late to seal the win.
Goaltender Linards Lipskis, who was acquired in a trade on Sept. 3 from the Bismark Bobcats, made 25 saves in the loss for the Windigo. He bounced back with 27-save shutout to help the team win their second game of the Showcase.
Offensively, forward Max Martin got the Windigo on the board just five minutes into the contest off a feed from Jacob Jastrzebski.
Forward Will Schumacher then pushed the lead to 2-0 a couple of minutes later. He struck for a second time just 1:34 into the third. Grahme assisted on both tallies.
From there, the Windigo held the Titans at bay until the final buzzer sounded.
On Friday, goaltender Logan Rose made his first start with the Windigo, making 46 saves in the win over the Brahmas. The lone goal he surrendered came with just eight seconds left in the contest.
Forward Zach Cline set up the Windigo’s first goal in the game on the power play from below the goal line in the second period. He found forward Drew Fisher, who buried the puck in the back of the net.
Forward Luke Baker extended the lead late in the period, and that was all the Windigo needed to earn the win.
In their final contest of the weekend, they faced the previously undefeated Minotauros. Minot struck just eight minutes into the contest, putting the Windigo back on their heels.
Comstock struck to even the game just four minutes later as Grahme picked up yet another assist. Martin then put the Windigo in the lead in the second period.
The Minotauros outshot the Windigo 11-1 in the third period, but Lipkis held his ground and kept them off the board to earn his second win of the year.
The Windigo return to Eagle River, Wisconsin, as they prepare for a six-game homestand. Up first will be Fairbanks on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The following two weekends, they will host Kenai River and Janesville for two games each.