Northland Pines senior defenseman Riley McGee worked the puck behind the Antigo goal during a power play. McGree scored one goal in the first period.
Northland Pines senior defenseman Riley McGee worked the puck behind the Antigo goal during a power play. McGree scored one goal in the first period.
The Northland Pines boys hockey team got off to a good start following the holiday break, beating Antigo 7-2 in a Great Northern Conference (GNC) game in the Dome last Thursday night.

The Eagles jumped on Antigo early and never looked back, gaining a big conference win to keep pace with frontrunner Lakeland. 

“We did a nice job shooting the puck early, scoring 2 goals in the first three minutes of the game,” said Pines coach David Cox.

Michael Maillette poked home a rebound shot in the first minute of the game.  Josh Chesney earned the assist — his first of three on the night. 

Thirty seconds later, Max Brown got a quick shot off in the high slot that skirted its way past Antigo netminder Arron Converse for a two-goal lead. It was Brown’s first of two goals of the night, also  scoring a powerplay goal in the second. 

“The Brown, Chesney and Maillette line was spot on tonight, credited for eight points between them on the night,” said Cox. “The only hiccup in the first period was the next shift. We left an uncovered Antigo forward all alone in the slot who got off a very nice shot that eluded Mitch McCanles, cutting the score to 2-1.”

The rest of the period belonged to Pines, who jumped on the Red Robins for one more powerplay goal by Riley McGree before the end of the period to take a 3-1 lead into the locker room.  McCanles had five saves in the period and Converse ended with 14. 

In the second, the usually disciplined Red Robins became unraveled, taking three more penalties on the heels of three in the first.

Pines managed to score two more powerplay goals to push the score to 5-1 and finished the period with a shorthanded goal by Logan Kramsvogel, assisted by Chesney. 

“That was a big goal and first goal for Logan who has been coming on lately and starting to play more relaxed,” said Cox. “It takes time for kids to find a comfort zone adjusting to high school sports and Logan and a few of his team mates are starting to slow the game down and perform at the level we see in practice. The next step is doing this consistently.” 

Trevor Romatoski picked up two assists on the powerplay in the middle frame.

“Trevor is really seeing the ice well right now and his teammates are the beneficiaries of his heads-up play,” said Cox. 

In the third, Pines was a quick strike goal scored on a deflection into the top corner by Jake Wielhouwer. Riley McGee was credited with the assist, giving him a three-point game on one goal and two assists. 

“Riley logged a lot of time teaming with several defensive partners as we were able to play all four lines and seven defensemen after the first period,” said Cox.

McCanles registered nine saves on 11 shots, while his counterpart Converse finished with 34 saves on 41 shots. 

It was a special night as the Eagles supported Berklee Adamovich, a 9-year-old Northland Pines student battling a rare form of cancer.

“We were able to raise, along with the Pines girls hockey program, close to $2,000,” said Cox. “Our community was fabulous again, stepping up and showing their generosity and heartfelt love for our youth. It is a small part in a huge road ahead for Berklee and we were very excited to be a part of this night. Ryann Cichon and Jodi Miesenberg did a wonderful job organizing the night on the boys side, offering a 50-50 raffle and puck toss.”  

Pines, 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the GNC, was scheduled to play at D.C. Everest in a nonconference game on Tuesday of this week and will host Waupaca this Thursday, Jan. 14, in a GNC game at 7 p.m.

The Eagles will play at Lakeland in a key conference matchup next Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

“This week we’ll hit the road and travel to D.C. Everest to take on the Evergreens in our annual matchup,” said Cox. “I was really excited to be able to keep them on our schedule this season and continue our series. So many traditional rivals and series have been put on hold this year during the pandemic. We look forward to playing in their rink and the challenge of the big ice sheet. “

Then on Thursday, Pines will be celebrating Senior Night saluting the Eagles seniors in another big conference tilt against Waupaca. 

“I do not know a lot about them this year coming in as they have a new coach and have been highly competitive this season,” said Cox.

Heading into this week, Mosinee leads the GNC at 6-1, followed by Northland Pines and Lakeland at 5-1, Rhinelander at 3-2, Antigo at 2-3, Waupaca at 1-3, Medford at 1-4 and Tomahawk at 0-5.