By Craig Marx, Editor
Northern Edge hockey hits the ice this year with 16 young ladies on its roster, including six players from the Antigo area. The Edge looks to rebound after a 3-13 season last year, where the Rhinelander-Antigo cooperative finished fourth in the Great Northern Conference with a 2-6 record.
Antigo native Payton Bunnell returns to the squad as team captain alongside Kourtney Carrico. Bunnell was third on the team last season in terms of points with 11 (six assists, five goals) while Carrico led the team with nine goals and five assists.
Head coach Kevin Sandstrom noted the returning talents of his 2017-18 captains.
“We are returning two captains from last season in [our] seniors Payton Bunnell and Kourtney Carrico. Payton will once again wear the “C”. She leads by example on and off the ice. She has outstanding character and does a phenomenal job relaying the coaching staff’s expectations to the team while making sure everyone is focused and prepared for the task at hand. Kourtney has an undeniable passion for the game and works day in and day out on making her craft better. She is the lead communicator for the team during the off-season and constantly encourages other team members to work hard. Joining Payton and Kourtney as captains this season is junior Gwen Frederickson. Gwen has embraced the role with significant enthusiasm. She is a positive advocate for her teammates and maintains a great relationship with all players and coaches. All three captains understand they are first and foremost players and teammates even though they’re in a leadership role. They remain composed and respectful in all aspects of the game and have established a culture of leadership and accountability throughout the team,” Coach Sandstrom said of his team leaders.
As Waupaca leaves the GNC to join a larger cooperative giant in Central Wisconsin, the conference is now down to just four teams. The new-look Great Northern Conference offers each team a nine-game conference schedule (three against each team), which adds to what Coach Sandstrom says will be a chance to compete for a league title.
“We figure with the right attitude and proper work ethic we will be able to compete with any team in the state, and be in the race for a conference title,” Sandstrom said while also mentioning other noted matchups. “Each year we host a Holiday Tournament in Rhinelander over the Christmas break, which is always exciting. We will also get the chance to play during Antigo’s ‘Hockey Days,’ where each youth and high school team has a home game on January 27th.”
With a chance to rebound in a newly laid out conference, Sandstrom is prospective of his team’s expectations going into the year, even though the Edge lost their home opener (to this point) 4-3 to Lakeland on November 21.
“Our expectations for the season on rely on a great work ethic – striving to get better with each practice and every game. We expect to get better as the season goes on and be playing our best hockey come playoff time in February. Through the three games we’ve played so far there have been some big positives, none more noticeable than Alicia Turunen’s play in net. Taking over after Shea Petersen graduated, she has stepped in and looked very good so far. Other positives include Evelyn LeVeque and Madi Losch scoring their first Varisty goals, Evie doing so on her first varsity shift. Madi looks to make an immediate impact after playing several years in the Rhinelander youth program, including back to back state finals appearances with the Rhinelander bantam team.”
Notable matchups for the Edge this year include: at Northland Pines (Monday, December 4); vs. Wisconsin Valley Union (the mega co-op team alluded to above comprised of former conference foe Waupaca, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield – Thursday, December 14); and meetings home and away with Arrowhead (Saturday, December 16 [home] and Sunday, January 28 [away] to end the regular season).
2017-18 Northern Edge Girls Hockey Schedule (remaining)
- Monday, December 4 – at Northland Pines – Eagle River Sports Arena
- Saturday, December 9 – vs. Western Wisconsin – Rhinelander
- Tuesday, December 12 – at Medford – Simek Recreation Center
- Thrusday, December 14 – vs. Wisconsin Valley Union – Rhinelander Ice Arena
- Saturday, December 16 – vs. Arrowhead – TBD
- Monday, December 18 – vs. Northland Pines – Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building
- Saturday, January 6 – at Western Wisconsin – Somerset Civic Center
- Monday, January 8 – at Lakeland – Lakeland Ice Arena
- Monday, January 15 – vs. Medford – Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building
- Saturday, January 20 – vs. Lakeland – Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building
- Monday, January 22 – at Northland Pines – Eagle River Sports Arena
- Thursday, January 25 – vs. Medford – Rhinelander Ice Arena
- Saturday, January 27 – vs. Lakeshore Lightning – Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building
- Sunday, January 28 – at Arrowhead – Mullet Ice Center