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Windigo split with Jets on the road, remain atop Midwest Division

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Facing the Janesville Jets for the second straight weekend, the Wisconsin Windigo kept their lead the NAHL’s Midwest Division at nine points over the Jets. The Jets won Friday night in a shootout, 2-1. Saturday, the Windigo bounced back with a 4-2 win.

Wisconsin improved to 30-10-3-3 on the season with the split, good for 66 points.

On Friday, forward Will Schumacher scored his 27th goal of the season at 19:31 of the opening frame while on the man advantage. Forward Everett Pietila got the puck from defenseman Erick Comstock thanks to a quick pass off the faceoff. Pietila then got the puck over to forward Max Martin, who ripped a one-timer into the back of the net.

From there, the game remained 1-0 in favor of the WIndigo until late in the third period, when Haden Kruse evened the game at 16:29.

After overtime, the two teams entered the shootout. After the Jets’ Mason Kesselring gave them the advantage by scoring first, Martin answered for the Windigo. Three rounds later, the Jets again took the lead on a goal by Connor Brown, but Comstock again answered for the Windigo.

It took three more rounds for the Jets to again pull ahead on a goal from Christian Venticinque. Michigan Tech recruit Quinn Disher had a chance to even things again, but his attempt failed, ending the game in Janesville’s favor.

Goaltender Max Beckford stopped 34 of 35 Jets’ shots in the contest.

“On Friday, we learned that we need to play a full 60 minutes to win, especially on the road,” said Windigo coach Blake Hietala. “We played very well during the first two periods. Their goalie kept them in the game and gave them a chance to come back in the third.

“It seemed like a lot of our shots went slightly too high or wide. That happens on some nights. Beckford played well, but we couldn’t manufacture the scoring needed to win.”

Saturday, the Jets struck first, scoring just 9:01 into the contest.

Needing a spark, the Windigo got it from defenseman Carter Theissen, who scored his fourth since joining Wisconsin in a trade in January at 4:42 of the second. Forward Tyler Grahme and defenseman Daniil Dolzhenko both assisted on the goal.

Grahme then put the Windigo up 2-1 about nine minutes later when he buried a feed from Schumacher. Pietila earned the other assist on the tally.

The Jets bounced back with a goal just 5:18 into the third, evening things at 2-2. Martin broke through with a goal at 14:45, putting the Windigo back on top with his 34th goal of the season. Grahme then buried an empty-netter with 52 seconds left to seal the win.

Goaltender Linards Lipskis made 23 saves to earn the win, his 16th of the season.

“On Saturday, we found our scoring touch, which is difficult to maintain over a long season, said Hietala. “We have several guys that can score on any given night.

“We gave up our sixth short-handed goal against this season. We need to be more careful with the puck. I’m pleased with the guys for maintaining their composure after that. The guys kept working and pressing.”

The Windigo will see the Jets again this season, and Hietala admits that every battle with them is a tough one.

“Janesville is a talented team,” he said, “and they will continue to be a tough out for the remainder of the season.”

HIGH-FLYING OFFENSE

The Windigo have a number of players among the league leaders offensively this season.

Martin maintained his status as the leader in total points in the NAHL, with 34 goals and 45 assists. Martin’s 34 goals leads the league in that category.

Grahme moved up to fourth place in total points, with 20 goals and 35 assists. Pietila holds down the ninth position in league points, with 11 goals and 38 assists.

Schumacher is second in goals scored in the league (27) in 38 games played.

UP NEXT

The Windigo continue their seven-game road trip, heading further south to Springfield, Illinois, to face off against the Jr. Blues on Feb. 23-24.

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