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T-Birds End Hatchets Unbeaten GNC Run, GNC Tournament Recap

By Bill Berg Jr, WiPH Staff, 02/11/24, 1:00PM CST


The Lakeland Thunderbirds and Tomahawk Hatchets came into the Great Northern Conference Tournament championship game at Mosinee City Recreation Center in Mosinee on Saturday with one conference loss between them, Tomahawk had beaten Lakeland 4-3 in a Wisconsin Prep Hockey game of the week.

It was another tight, well fought game on Saturday but this time it was the Thunderbirds taking the win, a 2-0 effort that was scoreless until there was just 1:42 left on the clock.

The first period saw Tomahawk's leading goal scorer and first-team all-conference forward, Jonah Dickens take a five-minute major for checking from behind. Between the major and 10-minute misconduct, the Hatchets were without Dickens for nearly the entire first period.

The Hatchets killed off the major penalty and managed to get out of the first period in a 0-0 tie with Lakeland outshooting them 12-7.

This turned around in a wild second period, with Tomahawk outshooting Lakeland 6-4. Both teams were flying up and down in the ice in the second, but many blocked shots and missed passes meant it was all for naught as they headed into the third period.

In the third period, Lakeland controlled the early portion of the period, but by the 3/4 mark of the period Lakeland had taken to icing the puck as the Hatchets applied constant pressure in the T-Birds zone. 

Eventually, Lakeland managed to spring Gray Wagner and with just 1:42 left on the clock in regulation he finally managed to crack Hatchets goalie Trevor Seliskar, and give Lakeland a 1-0 lead.

They added an empty-net goal with 50 seconds left to make it 2-0 and win the Great Northern Conference Tournament. Between the regular season and tournament titles, Lakeland and Tomahawk share the 2023-2024 GNC championship.

Seliskar had 23 saves on 24 shots for Tomahawk in their first conference loss of the season. Andrew Maulson of Lakeland stopped all 17 shots he faced in a low-shot game.

The first time the Waupaca Comets and Mosinee Indians met this season, Waupaca skated to a 6-4 win. Mosinee, however, flipped the script on the vising Comets in the third-place game of the Great Northern Conference tournament on Saturday in Mosinee, with a dominating 8-2 win.

Spencer Swiderski and Gavin Obremski each notched power play goals in the first period for Mosinee, who came out hot and out shot the Comets 19-8 in the frame.

Mosinee built the lead up to 4-0 early in the second on even-strength goals by Obremski and Grant Kulinski before Adam Mace finally got Waupaca on the board at the mid-way point of the period.

Mosinee would add two more goals in the period. The first was credited to Jaeger Dhein who came in on a two-on-one and chipped the puck across to his partner, but it bounced off the Waupaca defenseman and in, and the second was another power play goal by Kuklinski.

Cooper Zastrow and Elliot Yirkovsky extended the lead to 8-1 in the first third of the third period, and Ryan Mace tallied the final goal of the game for Waupaca to make it 8-2.

Andrew Lingl stopped 22 of 24 shots for Mosinee in the win to take third in the GNC tournament. Gavin Hafferman stopped 26 of 34 for Waupaca, and Carson Jameson stopped all 5 shots he faced.

Games of the Week

7th Place Game

The Eagles of Northland Pines scored 5 unanswered goals through the first two periods to take a 5-0 lead into the third before Medford got on the board, outshooting the Raiders 33-23 in the process.

In the third period, Medford outshot Pines 27-9, and scored three goals of their own to narrow the gap, but not enough and Pines skated away with a 6-3 win in the seventh place game.

5th Place Game

In a wild offensive display in the fifth-place game the Antigo Red Robins beat the Rhinelander Hodags 9-4. 

Both teams scored quick goals in the first four minutes of the first, but Antigo followed with the next three to open up a 4-1 lead. Rhinelander cut it to 4-2 by the end of the first.

Antigo added three more in the second before Rhinelander scored again, and the teams traded goals in the third.

Eli Kassler led the scoring with five goals and four assists for Antigo. Owen Dickman had three goals and four assists for the Robins. Joey Bellanger had three goals for Rhinelander in the loss.

Second Round

First Round