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Wisconsin's tourney run is giving a boost to Northwoods businessesSubmitted: 03/20/2017

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NORTHWOODS - You can bet there were smiles all across Wisconsin when the Badgers finished their upset win over Villanova on Saturday night.

But excited Bucky fans aren't the only ones enjoying the ride to the Sweet 16.

Some Northwoods businesses are loving it too.


"Whether it's the Badgers, Packers, and even the Brewers, when the local teams do well, we see a large upswing for our business," said Bucketheads bartender Lyndon Lampe.

Wisconsin's jump to the Sweet 16 has done just that for Bucketheads Sports Bar in Rhinelander.

Lampe says it's been all Badgers talk at the bar the last few days.

But he's not the only one noticing the excitement.

"I think a lot of people were surprised by the win this past weekend, and Saturday a lot of people were in looking for new Badger things, excited about where we're going to go with this," said Packerland Plus owner Brenda Mrotek.

The Wisconsin NCAA tournament run comes at a particularly important time for Packerland Plus in Minocqua.

It's providing a spark to what's normally a quiet time of year.

"This time of the year is hard because snowmobiling's done, ice fishing is still going a little bit, but people can't really open their cabins," said Mrotek. "Summertime is definitely the bigger season when we get more tourists around." 

Mrotek also said Packerland Plus is already prepared for a few more Wisconsin wins.

"We already have shirts and hats pre-booked for Final Four, so hopefully they make it that far. Again, the further teams go in playoff situations like this, the more excited fans get."

Over at Bucketheads, the Badgers games are a chance to offer drink specials to customers. And much like Packerland Plus, these unexpected games help fill a void.

"The longer they go, it bridges the gap from--we obviously had the Saint Patrick's Day party--it bridges the gap right into the start of baseball season," said Lampe.

Whether it's rooting as a fan or rooting for better business, it's all about the Badgers right now.

"At this point it's 'Go Bucky!' and hope they can do it," said Lampe.

Wisconsin's next game is this Friday night against Florida at Madison Square Garden.


Story By: Mark Spillane

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 LOCAL SPORTS

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STEVENS POINT - Sports superstitions don't always have a well-known origin. That's true of the hockey playoff beards you see every season.

"I don't really know why it's a thing," said UW-Stevens Point senior forward Kyle Sharkey.

But that hasn't stopped hockey players from rolling with it.

"Back when I was playing juniors, it was a lot longer playoff season and things got pretty hairy," said Sharkey.

The UW-Stevens Point hockey team won the Division III national title last year, and they're out to defend their title over the next few weeks.

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MINOCQUA - December 4 was a night that junior Tyler Carroll will never forget. It was the night nearly half of his body was badly burned in a bonfire accident. Most of the burns were on his legs.

"For me to barely even walk, that was really hard for me," said Carroll.

Tyler was a star football, hockey, and track athlete for Lakeland Union High School. The accident ended his hockey season.

"I got two games in, scored two goals, having fun, and then that came to a halt, which was frustrating," said Carroll.

But Tyler's favorite sport is football. He's the quarterback and running back for Lakeland Union and plans to play in college as well.

"My first question was 'Can I play football again?' because that's my main focus. And when they said that I could play again, that's what kept me going," said Carroll.

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MADISON - Many young hockey fans in the Northwoods grow up watching Wisconsin play each week. Rarely do those fans get to actually sit on the Badgers bench and hang out in the locker room.

But Connor Cox has a cool job that allows him to do just that.

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WAUSAU - Hockey in northcentral Wisconsin typically means just high school and college teams. But there could be a new North American Hockey League team moving to Wausau.

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MARSHFIELD HIGH SCHOOL - Stevens Point boys basketball upset No. 1 Oshkosh North 76-61.

SPASH will play Madison Memorial next Friday night at 6:35 p.m. The winner of that game will compete on Saturday for the state title at the Kohl Center in Madison.

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NORTHWOODS - Mark Spillane and Katie Leszcynski have covered the Northwoods winter sports teams from start to finish this year and cap off the season with their picks for team, player, and coach of the year.

They've also got the top 5 plays of the winter season and a look at the Badgers Big Ten Tournament game against Indiana.

All that and more on this edition of Friday Night Blitz.

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MERRILL - In Division 2, No. 2 Medford boys basketball traveled to Merrill High School to take on No.1 Wausau East.

After a back-and-forth battle, Wausau East would take down Medford 51-49.

Wausau East advances on to play Lacrosse Central at Stevens Point on Saturday at 1 p.m.

They weren't the only team facing off on Thursday night. In Division 4, No. 1 Phillips and No. 2 Cameron played at Spooner High School. The Phillips Loggers fell to Cameron, 53-35.

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

BUFFALO, NY - Top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by eighth-seeded Wisconsin, which overcame foul trouble for two of its stars in the second half Saturday to upset the defending champions 65-62 in the East region.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) Senior guard Bronson Koenig scored 17 points in his final home game, combining with D'Mitrik Trice to give No. 22 Wisconsin's offense a second-half boost in a 66-49 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

The Badgers (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten) secured the second seed in the conference tournament and got a sorely needed confidence boost to end the regular season after having lost five of their previous six games.

Nate Mason had 17 points for Minnesota (23-8, 11-7). The Golden Gophers had won eight straight.

Koenig hit five 3s in the second half, including baskets on three straight possessions with less than 3 minutes left. Trice had a four-point play after getting fouled on a 3-pointer with 12:24 left, before hitting a layup about 20 seconds later.

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MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) " Nigel Hayes scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, Ethan Happ had 20 points and No. 11 Wisconsin beat No. 23 Maryland 71-60 in a choppy, foul-filled game on Sunday.

The Badgers (22-5, 11-3) overcame 27 points from Terrapins guard Melo Trimble to snap a two-game losing streak and stay in a tie atop the Big Ten with Purdue.

Bronson Koenig scored all nine of his points in the second half, giving the Badgers a lift with his jump shot after the senior missed a game with a left calf injury. Wisconsin shot 51 percent in the second half.

Wisconsin pulled away slowly, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a 12-point edge with 3 minutes to go in a game that lacked flow because of frequent whistles.

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MADISON - Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points, and defensive-minded Northwestern beat No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59 on Sunday, securing an important win for the school's bid to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Dererk Pardon added 11 for the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4), who confounded the Big Ten-leading Badgers by doubling dominant big man Ethan Happ.

Nigel Hayes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.

The Badgers didn't let up despite falling behind by 10 with 1 minute left, closing to 60-55 with less than 15 seconds after Zak Showalter hit two foul shots.

But McIntosh followed with two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Wisconsin ran out of time.


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ATLANTA, GA - The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch and run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

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GREEN BAY - Receiver Jordy Nelson will miss the Green Bay Packers' divisional round playoff game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys because of injured ribs.

Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday that Nelson would not be medically cleared to take part in the team's final practice on Saturday, and that the medical staff determined that Nelson would not be ready for the game.

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IOWA CITY, IA - With a possible trip to the Big Ten championship game at stake, Nebraska fell flat.

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