For the 2018-2019 season the Great Northern Conference joined the likes of the Badgerland Conference in doing away with the traditional play-each-other-twice conference schedule in favor of a play-each-other-once schedule with a conference tournament at the end.
This puts four games back onto the schedules of all the teams in the conference to do with as they please. That could mean more games against traditional rivals, sectional opponents, or even another tournament during the season.
The first round of the tournament didn't see any upsets as #1 Northland Pines beat #8 Medford, #4 Antigo beat #5 Tomahawk, #3 Rhinelander beat #6 Mosinee, and #2 Waupaca beat #7 Lakeland.
In the winners bracket, the tournament followed suit as Northland Pines beat Antigo and Waupaca beat Rhinelander to set up the first place and third place games for Saturday.
In the other half of the bracket Lakeland topped Mosinee for the first upset of the tournament. And Tomahawk beat Medford to set up the final day of games.
The final round of this inaugural GNC tournament took place in Antigo on Saturday.
Medford and Mosinee opened the final round of the tournament on Saturday morning. The first time they met this season, Mosinee beat Medford 11-4, but it was a much better game this time around with the game tied at 3 after two periods. Max Beste knocked in the game winner with just over two minutes left in the game to give Mosinee a 4-3 win and the 7th place finish.
It was another great game in the 5th place game as Tomahawk and Lakeland entered the third period tied at 2 goals a piece. Keegan McJoynt scored for Lakeland early in the third to give the Thunderbirds the 3-2 win, and their second upset win of the tournament.
The third place game followed suit, with Antigo and Rhinelander in a tight 2-1 match entering the third period, but the Red Robins managed to score three times on a 5-minute head contact power play, to run away with a 5-1 upset win.
The Northland Pines Eagles and Waupaca Comets finished off the night, and like last time this game was heavily tilted in Pines favor as they skated to a 9-2 win. Pines has given up 4 goals total in their last six games, and all 4 were scored by Waupaca.
Next year the final day of the Great Northern Conference tournament will be played in Eagle River.