The WIAA sectional semi-final was a battle of outstanding goaltending and strong defensive play on both ends of the ice. Spirited play at this time of year is appreciated by players, coaches and fans alike- it’s too bad someone has to lose.
Both teams played solid hockey in a scoreless first period with SPASH registering eight shots on goal while Antigo only mustered three. Things heated up in the second with both teams becoming more aggressive in getting added shots on goals; each boasting ten for the middle period but with double-zeros still showing on the scoreboard after 34 minutes.
Antigo finally pierced the goal at 4:36 of the third as Alex Nagel scored on the power play with assists credited to Tyler Husnick and Zack Levis to give the Red Robins the edge both on the scoreboard and the added pressure that ‘win or go home’ games bring to WIAA tournament atmosphere.
Antigo later added an insurance score at 13:38 with Jed Weix getting the goal with teams at even strength with assists attributed to Gavin Bunnell and Andrew Turunen.
After a single penalty call in the first two periods, SPASH disadvantaged themselves in the third: drawing four penalties, including two tripping calls, a cross-checking minor and a ten-minute unsportsmanlike conduct call.
Both teams peppered shots at their opponents’ goal in the last 17 minutes with each team registering 13 shots on goal in the final period.
With the win, Antigo’s net keeper, Ryan Schmidt, plays on; adding to his regular season mark of 20-2-2 win-loss record with 434 saves on 466 shots on goal for a .931 save percentage with six shutouts. He’ll no doubt be tested by #1 seeded Wausau West in Saturday’s WIAA sectional final, with the winner advancing into state level competition against Saturday’s survivor of a #1 seed Bayport vs. #3 Appleton East co-op team showdown. That game begins at 1 PM at K.B. Willett Arena.