By Craig Marx, Editor
The Antigo Red Robins took the Bay Port Pirates into overtime for the second time this season, with the Robins picking up the first win. In Thursday night’s elimination WIAA Playoff contest, however, Antigo’s luck ran just short in a 4-3 loss at the Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building to those very same Pirates.
The dagger came just a minute and two seconds into the extra eight-minute overtime when Spencer Challe received a cross-ice pass from Matej Huncik on a rush, putting the puck past senior goaltender Ben Bartletti to stymie the Robins’ playoff hopes on their home ice.
“Bay Port had a good run-and-gun game plan and it took us a little too long to adjust, [then we] found ourselves down,” head coach Matt Borneman said. “I am so proud of the team to battle back and tie it up, twice. The grit and grind it took to dig out of two deficits is truly remarkable and something to be commended.”
The game reached overtime after a back-and-forth contest in which Antigo found itself down 2-0 after one period of play. Facing the deficit, Antigo’s team points leader, Tyler Husnick, got the Robins back within one with a top shelf zinger from the middle of the slot at the 6:31 mark of the second period.
Antigo briefly tied the game in the third frame as CJ Levis buried the puck on a rebound after an Adam Schmidt shot at the 9:43 mark. Just 14 seconds later, Bay Port’s Austin Mikesch answered back with a goal to give the Pirates the lead once more after the brief interim of two apiece.
The Robins found themselves in trouble in the third period, score aside. Killing off an early 5-on-3 opportunity for Bay Port, Antigo later battled back once the Pirates had regained the lead. With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Matt Winter forced the game-tying goal for Antigo that would send the game into the unfortunate circumstances of the ensuing overtime.
“Hats off to Bay Port for sticking with their game plan which ultimately led to the game-winning rush. We had a couple good looks in regulation to go ahead but Bay Port was able to keep the puck out,” Borneman added.
Antigo hockey has everything to be proud of this year. The team faced some of the stiffest competition in the state from the onset of the season through the first game of the playoffs, and showed that it could compete with virtually any program out there. With another Great Northern Conference championship under their belts, the Robins have proven themselves to be one of the most elite programs in Northern Wisconsin.
The Robins will lose the help of seven seniors after this year, including Ben Bartletti, Collin Meinert, Tyler Husnick, Andrew Turunen, Mitchell Schroepfer, Noah Kubacki, and Luke Berner. The emergence of young talent, particularly underclassmen on offense, shows that the program will continue to flourish despite the losses of Antigo’s graduates.
“It has been an absolute pleasure coaching these seniors and although their season ended early, there is a vast list of accomplishments they can hang their hats on. These boys will do great things in the future,” Borneman said in closing.
Special thanks to all the coaches for their support this season and also to Antigo Hockey on Facebook for the use of all their amazing still shots from the games. We thank you!