Wolverines shut out Windigo 3-0 to clinch NAHL Midwest Division finals series

Heading into enemy territory on Friday night where their opponent had a strong home record and was facing elimination, the Anchorage Wolverines knew they had to “bring the energy right from puck drop,” according to head coach Nick Walters.

That is exactly what they did in Game 3 of the Midwest Division finals as they shut out the Wisconsin Windigo 3-0 to clinch the best-of-five series and advance to the final four of the Robertson Cup playoffs.

“To be able to take one at their barn and sweep, we couldn’t be more excited with that result,” Walters said.

They anticipated a challenge and Walters “couldn’t be more proud” of how his players came together to vanquish a formidable foe who had the upper hand against Anchorage during the regular season.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Walters said. “I could just sense how dialed in they were. They were ready to go and I could tell right from the morning skate.”

Goalie Liam Beerman had another “lights out” performance as he continues to raise his level of play in the postseason, preventing all 24 Wisconsin shot attempts from finding the back of the net.

“I thought he was what we needed last night,” Walters said. “I thought we defended really well in front of him and really minimized scoring chances most of the game.”


Even when the Wolverines did miss an assignment and gave the Windigo a good look at getting to the net, Beerman was there to deny the attempt and maintain the shutout.

One of this year’s team’s greatest strengths has been its incredible depth when it comes to players who can score in every shift. That trend continued in Friday’s series-clinching game as all three goals came from different players.

“It’s pretty exciting because obviously your best players are your best players and they certainly are most nights but to have different guys step up in different capacities is outstanding,” Walters said. “To have different goal scorers every night just shows you the depth of our team and that on different nights, different guys are stepping up.”

Cole Frawner drew first blood in the opening period and fellow forwards Arvega Hovsepyan and Cole Christian tacked on two more to the team’s total in the second before the game concluded with a scoreless final period.

Walters wanted to give a special shout out to defenseman Christian Theberge who is normally in the lineup but was making his playoff debut in Game 3 after recovering from an illness. They put him in the lineup as a forward and believe he did an “outstanding job.”

“He was really good in the D-zone, got pucks out of the zone when we needed, he was chipping pucks in, played a total team game and actually created some pretty good looks at creating some offense for us too,” Walters said. “To have a player like that who you can throw in wherever and whenever and be effective, big kudos to him.”

Walters wasn’t on the inaugural coaching staff that went on an improbable yet magical ride to the Robertson Cup finals in the franchise’s first year of existence two years ago.

Last year was his first on the staff as an assistant and after falling short of making back-to-back playoffs berths, getting back was this year’s squad’s primary objective after he got promoted to head coach.

“We missed the playoffs by two points last year and it was a goal of ours to make the playoffs,” Walters said. “Once you get to the playoffs, it’s a whole new season. Every team is good and you just never know who is going to beat who.”

Making it to the Final Four still feels surreal for him and the rest of the team and they’re looking forward to enjoying a well-deserved break from competition but still can’t wait to get back on the ice Monday.

“This is our last week of practice and I know those guys will be ready to compete next Friday,” Walters said. “We’ll be well rested and it’ll be business as usual.”

The Wolverines don’t know who their opponent will be in the semifinals as the other three NAHL series were still taking place Saturday evening.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.