The Antigo Red Robins came out flying to start the game, scoring the first two goals and never trailing to defeat the West Salem Panthers 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at the Langlade County Ice Arena.
The Robins opened up the scoring at 4:01 in the first period. Adam Schmidt was skating with the puck behind the Panthers’ goal line when he spotted CJ Levis alone in the slot. A perfect pass and a quick one-timer sent the puck behind West Salem goalie Mitch Hammes. Eric Langseth also assisted on the play.
The first period ended with Antigo on top 1-0. Hammes was very busy in the period stopping 14 shots. Ben Bartletti was not quite as active at the other ended, blocking the only two shots he faced in the first.
West Salem coach Eric Borre got his squad settled down during the first break, and the play in the second period was more balanced. Each team managed nine shots and one goal in the frame.
Antigo scored first when a Panther defenseman got trapped in the Robins zone and left his partner to face Matt Winter and Schmidt in a two on one. Winter carried the puck in along the left side, while Schmidt veered wide on the right, drawing the defenseman towards him, and opening up the slot for Winter. Winter roofed a shot from around the hash marks, putting Antigo up 2-0 at 5:20 in the second.
That lead held up until there was just over three minutes left in the period. The Panthers got two power play chances late in the period, and cashed in on the second one. Ryan Beirne fired a shot from the right point that was blocked before it got to the net. Jack Gorniak got the puck and fired another shot that was also blocked by an Antigo skater. That shot ended up on the stick of Cayden Krause around the lower edge of the face-off circle. Krause’s shot was not blocked by a skater and beat Bartletti up high to put West Salem on the board.
It took just over a minute and a half for the Panthers to tie the game in the third period. Alex Jackson had the puck in the right circle in the Robins zone when he spotted Colton Meyer left all alone near the bottom of the other face-off circle. A hard pass through the slot and a quick one-timer by Meyer netted a game-tying, back-door goal for West Salem.
That lead lasted about four and a half minutes when Schmidt put the Robins back on top for good. Levis carried the puck into the Panthers zone with Schmidt on a two on two. Levis passed and Schmidt took a harmless-looking wrist shot from the right face-off dot. Hammes, who had been doing a marvelous job all afternoon of sending all of Antigo’s shots into the corners, misplayed the shot with his stick. Instead of ending up in the corner, it landed in the back of the net.
West Salem continued to try using that unlocked back door, clanging one off the goal post later in the period, while Antigo coach Matt Borneman pointed out to his players that one of them should get out there and take that shot away. The Robins did a good job of clearing the puck from their zone and limiting the Panthers chances the rest of the way.
Hammes ended the game with 30 saves, and Bartletti recorded 23 in the contest.