By Craig Marx, Editor
Antigo hockey was the only AHS sport active this past weekend, continuing a road stretch with a 2-1 loss to Neenah-Hortonville-Menasha on a snow-filled Friday and a 3-0 win over Fond du Lac Springs the following day.
“During our [road] stretch, the team handled the adversity of facing stiff competition with a short bench fairly well. Their mental toughness to block out fatigue and grind it out shows that our mindset is on the ‘team first’ mentality,” head coach Matt Borneman said after the weekend.
Neenah-Hortonville-Menasha entered Friday’s game ranked No. 6 in the state (according to Wisconsin Prep Hockey) while Antigo (now 7-2) held steady at the No. 8 spot in the Week 2 rankings.
Tyler Husnick gave Antigo a 1-0 lead at 4:45 into the first period. The Rockets answered back with the man-advantage in the second, however, as Cody Dias netted a power play score to tie the game at one all with less than two minutes remaining in the middle frame.
Entering the third period, Travis Treml scored the Rockets’ go-ahead goal at the 10:02 mark, assisted by Thomas Priest.
Robin goaltender Ben Bartletti notched 23 saves against Neenah as the Antigo skaters put up 16 shots against Rocket netminder Preston Long.
“Hats off to the Neenah players for their 51 minutes of hustle and relentless attack,” Borneman noted. “We struggled handling their pressure all game long and only earned a few bouts of sustained offense. Our approach was to be opportunistic with our rushes and looks but we failed to capitalize on enough to grind out a win.”
Saturday saw the Antigo men secure a 3-0 win over the Fond du Lac Springs Ledgers to move closer to a break before Christmas week. It did not take long for the Robins to set the tone as CJ Levis scored just over a minute into the first period.
Up 1-0 after the first intermission, a power play goal by Garret Held and a later even strength score from Andrew Turunen helped the Robins take a three-goal lead into the scoreless third period for the win.
“Our fatigue from the past two games was a factor in this game,” Borneman said about the Springs game. “Playing on the Olympic sheet of ice just added to the trials and tribulations of our three-game stretch. We had to play a different style game than what we normally play with a full tank – being more passive with our forecheck in both the offensive zone and neutral zone and protecting our house in the defensive zone. To grind out a shutout is a true testament to Bart’s current level of play and our team’s character to get it done no matter what.”
Bartletti recorded 27 saves in the shutout, his second of the season. The Antigo offense made goals count when they had opportunities, putting just 19 shots up on Ledger goaltender Colin Ahern.
“Bart played two great games back to back against good competition,” Coach Borneman added. “He kept us in both games, bailing us out time and time again when we got caught scrambling in our defensive zone coverage.”
The final game of the Robins’ road stretch ends with Northland Pines tomorrow evening at the Eagle River Ice Arena beginning at 7 PM. After an extended holiday break, Antigo hockey resumes play at home on Dec. 29 against Bay Port (4 PM).
“This [past] weekend was a great opportunity to gauge where our team is at at the 1/3 mark of our schedule and give us a good direction for areas of concern to concentrate on during our nine-day stretch without games coming up after Tuesday’s tilt with Pines.”