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Windigo sweep Wolverines to stay hot

EAGLE RIVER, Wis. — Riding an 11-1 run that has seen the Wisconsin Windigo sprint to the top of the NAHL’s Midwest Division, the team has been playing some of its best hockey since the turn of the New Year. This weekend, they took on the Anchorage Wolverines, 6-2 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday, earning a sweep to remain at the top of the division.

“This was an important series for us,” said Windigo coach Blake Hietala, a former Michigan Tech player and Houghton native. “Anchorage is a very good team. They are poised to make a strong push heading into the playoffs. Taking four points from them this weekend was important.”

With the wins, the Windigo improved to 27-10-3-2 on the season, good for 59 points in 42 games.

On Friday, Michigan Tech recruit Quinn Disher continued his hot run to start his stint with the Windigo as he struck just 4:27 into the game. Defensemen Daniil Dolzhenko and Carter Theissen both assisted on Disher’s seventh goal with Wisconsin.

Forward Tyler Grahme then extended the lead to 2-0 at 18:40. Forwards Will Schumacher and Everett Pietila both assisted on the goal.

The Wolverines scored the game’s next two goals to even the score at 2-2 by the 8:38 mark of the second period. However, Windigo forward Elliot Gulley regained the lead at 16:34. Forward Braydon Beahm and Disher both assisted on the tally.

In the third period, Max Martin drove the Windigo’s hot start to the final frame. He scored just 3:05 in, and followed that up wiht an assist on the first of two goals by Schumacher at 10:20.

Defenseman Jack Thomas and forward Luke Baker both asssisted on Martin’s tally.

Grahme, who had the primary assist on Schumacher’s first goal, also assisted on his second goal at 18:30, which sealed the win. Theissen also earned an assist on the goal.

Goaltender Max Beckford made 34 saves to earn the win.

On Saturday, the Windigo got things started early as Baker struck just 1:06 in. Martin and forward Jacob Jastrzebski both earned assists.

After the Wolverines tied the game at one, Disher scored his eighth of the season at 13:27. Gulley and Beahm chipped in with assists.

Anchorage again evened the game before the first period came to a close, but that was the last time they were even with Wisconsin.

Midway through the middle frame, Jastrzebski regained the lead with his 12th of the season at 10:03. Martin and Beahm were both in on the goal.

Beahm then extended the lead to 4-2 at 13:50. Disher and defenseman Mario DiMaggio both assisted on the tally.

Forward Logan Nickolaus put the game out of reach 13:02 into the third. Forward Zachary Cline and defenseman Cashen Naeve both assisted on the goal.

Goaltender Linards Lipskis stopped 27 of 29 Anchorage shots to earn the win.

Hietala likes that his team is not relying on just Martin, Schumacher and Grahme to provide offense in the second half of the season. He especially likes what he is seeing out of Disher, who has 14 points in 11 games since joining the team.

“In addition to our scoring leaders like Martin, Schumacher and Grahme, we continue to get production throughout the lineup,” he said. “Disher continues to get better every game since joining the team in December.

“It was great to see guys like Gulley, Baker, and Nickolaus score as well this weekend. Guys like that contribute a lot to our success, much of which goes unnoticed most of the time.”

MARTIN HONORED

On Feb. 1, the NAHL announced the stars of the month for the month of January. Max Martin was named NAHL Forward of the Month.

Martin, a native of Tawas, Michigan, was a huge piece in the Windigo’s January success as the team went 8-1 in the month. He scored 12 goals and added seven assists for 19 points on the month.

The recent Bowling Green State commit leads the Windigo, and the entire NAHL, in scoring with 70 points.

“Max’s consistency this season has been impressive, and he demonstrated it again with another great month of January,” Hietala said. “His work ethic and compete drive his game and his teammates feed off of it. I’m looking forward to seeing how he finishes off the great season he’s having.

UP NEXT

The Windigo stay home in Eagle River to host the Janesville Jets this weekend with sole possesion of first place in the Midwest on the line. The Jets hold second in the standings, just four points behind the Windigo, but they hold two games in hand.

“Janesville will be a tough opponent (this) weekend,” said Hietala. “We are playing with confidence now, and we need to keep the momentum going.”

Friday’s game is set to start at 7 p.m. Eastern, and Saturday’s game will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Eagle River Sports Arena in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

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