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For the Bunnells of Antigo, Hockey is a Family Tradition

By Bill Berg, WiPH Staff, 12/28/23, 9:00AM CST


The DC Everest Evergreens opened up the Antigo Holiday Tournament against the hosting Antigo Red Robins on Wednesday afternoon, and came away with a 5-3 win. The game featured the first ever head-to-head match up of the Bunnell cousins, Griffen and Nolan, and the Bunnell family was geared up for the event.

Senior Nolan Bunnell, wearing number 29, started the game in goal for the Robins, with his dad, Brian Bunnell on the bench as the head coach. Thirty-some years ago, Brian, a senior and wearing number 29 was the goalie for Antigo with his dad, Mike Bunnell on the bench as the head coach.

Also on that Antigo squad was Brian’s younger brother Nate, a freshman. By the time Nate was a senior, he would be the center on the top line of the team that captured Antigo’s lone WIAA State Championship.

In goal for DC Everest was sophomore Griffen Bunnell, son of Nate, and also wearing number 29. Because they were two years apart in age, even though they played hockey in the same region, the two goalies had never faced each other in a game. Commemorative t-shirts were printed up with the Robins logo and the Evergreens log split down the middle. Grandma and Grandpa Bunnell were on hand hoping for a scoreless tie.

Alas, the scoreless tie did not happen. The Evergreens dashed those hopes, scoring on a three on two rush midway through the first period.  Skating in on the left side Thomas Passineau dropped the puck back to Cole VanSlyke in the slot. VanSlyke fired a shot that just clipped the bottom of the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Nolan Bunnell lost his stick behind the Robins net. A defenseman retrieved the stick and was handing it back to Bunnell, which distracted the goalie long enough for Caden Allen to slip the puck past him to put Everest up 2-0.

That was still the score when the first period ended. Shots on goal favored the Evergreens 16-12.

Three minutes into the second period, Antigo’s Owen Dickman cut around a defenseman from the left side and slipped the puck between Griffen Bunnell’s pads, cutting the DCE lead in half 2-1.

With four minutes to go in the second, Ethan Whitmore got the two goal lead back for the Evergreens when he stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in to score and make it 3-1.

Shots on goal after two were still in Everest’s favor, 33 to 22.

Two minutes into the third, Aiden Haupt and Hayden Johnson entered the Robins zone in a two on one. Haupt drew the defenseman toward him and fed a perfect pass to Johnson on the wide-open back door brought the score to 4-1.

Two more goals for Antigo by Dickman, and a goal for Everest by Shaeden Fogelberg made the final score 5-3 Evergreens.

DC Everest advances to the championship game against Amery, while Antigo will face Shawano in the consolation game on Thursday.

WiPH Game Summaries