Rhinelander hockey bounces back with tournament winSubmitted: 01/21/2018

Play Video
MERRILL - Sometimes sports seasons can feel like a roller coaster ride. That couldn't be more true for Rhinelander boys hockey. The Hodags won their first seven games before losing seven in a row. But this weekend they got back on track by winning the Merrill-Wausau East tournament.

"When you're going through a tough stretch where you haven't had much going your way and you're losing a lot, you're not winning periods, you're not outscoring, outshooting people, to get back on track and get back on the right side of the scoreboard is just a great feeling," said senior Cole Spaulding.

Rhinelander defeated Medford 5-0 on Friday night in a semifinal game. Then they captured the tournament championship with a 5-1 win against Merrill-East on Saturday. Hodags head coach MJ Laggis said the team stayed positive throughout the entire losing streak.

"We battled through it, I thought we had really good practices, we kept our intensity. Our theme was about being a team, staying together and coming out of this and starting to win games and this weekend we did that," said Laggis.

Laggis said one of his team's goals is to host a playoff game.The Hodags are back on the ice tomorrow night.

Story By: Mark Spillane

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story

Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Blaine Stephenson captured the top spot at the 55th World Championship Snowmobile Derby Sunday night in Eagle River.

Tomahawk native Nick Van Strydonk was one of the favorites after winning the last two titles.

Cardell Potter led for the first part of the race before wrecking on the front stretch.

And with two laps to go, a multi-sled crash happened in turn two, which put Stephenson in first place to take the checkered flag.

Stephenson is 21 years old and from Hutchinson, Minnesota.

He wasn't able to race last year after an accident left him with skull fractures and brain damage.

"Winning Eagle River and the way that it all happened, I'm still processing it to be honest. It's been a great weekend and we can't thank those who are behind us enough," said Stephenson.

Van Strydonk came close to completing the three-peat by finishing in second place.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - If you follow Northwoods racing you probably know about Natalie Decker.

We talked with Natalie on Sunday at the track about how her racing career is going in the ARCA series.

She just tested at Daytona International Speedway last weekend.

"The first day I got home, everyone was stopping me and saying 'tell me about Daytona!' and everyone wants to know and it's really cool that everyone's interested and supporting me, I love being here," said Decker.

It was her first time driving at Daytona. It was also her first time drafting at such a big track.

"We're all going 185 mph but when you're passing someone, it's like slow motion," said Decker.

Decker will be back racing at Daytona in a few weeks as a part of her full time contract with Venturini Motor Sports.

That race will be on Saturday, February 10th and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

+ Read More
Friday Night Blitz: 1/19/18Submitted: 01/19/2018

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander boys basketball stayed undefeated with a win over Mosinee.

The Hodags also earned a girls basketball win with a win over the Indians.

Plus Crandon girls basketball cruised to a win over Laona-Wabeno.

Finally, Merrill girls basketball plays well in a loss to Wisconsin Valley lead D.C. Everest.

Check out those highlights and more!

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Check out the girls basketball highlights from around the Northwoods.

+ Read More

Play Video

CRANDON - Senior Max Palmer plays on the Crandon boys basketball team. 

But just a few years ago, he was playing on the Mongolian National Team. 

When he moved to the United States, he had to learn English and a new way of life, but he always had basketball. 

Palmer lived in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar which has over a million people. So to move to Crandon Wisconsin which has less than 2,000 people, was a bit of an adjustment.

"I like it, it's quiet, not many people here," said Palmer.

It's taken Palmer some time to learn the English language, but he's got the basics down for now.

"I love basketball," said Palmer.

Basketball is why he moved to the United States in 2015. 

"People just thought he was here to visit, but then he started coming to school and we got to know him," said teammate Blake Weber.

Palmer lived with his aunt briefly in Cleveland, Chicago and Washington D.C. But then they decided to move to Crandon.

"It's pretty good basketball. My teammates, like Blake Weber, he's really good," said Palmer.

And Blake think's Max is pretty good, too.

"Coming from the Mongolian National Team, to me it means he's really good but then he comes here and shows us how good he is and it makes me work harder," said Weber.

They're all working a little harder this year and it's paying off. That's helped Max come up with a good goal for his senior year.

"This is my last year and I really want to be conference champs this year," said Palmer.

His goal is on the right track so far. Crandon is on top of the Northern Lakes Conference with a few weeks left to go in the season.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAKELAND - Lakeland swimming picked up where it left off last season. The T-Birds are undefeated in the Great Northern Conference. Just last week they broke not one, but two school records including the 200 free relay.

"We've been trying to break that one for years. I think it's been about five years we've had a relay team say we're taking that record down finally. And to have that mid-season is just amazing," said senior Grant Gibson.

That 200 free record stood since 1997. Senior Jack Garcia says the recent success has given his squad a confidence boost.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - If you follow Northwoods basketball, you know the name. Rhinelander senior Owen White has accomplished a lot in his high school career, but he recently added another achievement to the list.

"It's my first 1,000 point scorer so it was kind of unique so for him to be able to do that on our home floor, I think made it extra special," said Rhinelander Head Coach Derek Lemmens.

White crossed the milestone on January 5 with 22 points against Tomahawk. He says he was happy, proud and relieved.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Competitors traveled from all around the world for the vintage snowmobile world championships this weekend. When the final race ended in Eagle River, the champion was just a short drive from home. Rhinelander native, Justin Ernst, crossed the line in first place to capture the championship. After the race, Ernst tried to describe his excitement.

"This is the biggest deal in vintage, this is the biggest race, the biggest prize, there's 49 entries and I got the top spot. How can you replace that? It's so awesome," said Ernst.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Check out the highlights from both the boys and girls Northland Pines hockey games on Saturday!

And see local scores from around the area.

+ Read More
Friday Night Blitz: 1/12/18Submitted: 01/12/2018

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Rhinelander tops Antigo in a fast-paced GNC boys basketball game.
The Hodags also took the win on the girls side.
Crandon claims the top spot in the NLC with a win over Phelps.
Plus Lakeland cruises past Mosinee in a girls basketball game.
And Phillips boys basketball downs Abbotsford to take a two game lead in the Marawood North.

Check out those highlights plus all the scores from around the area.

+ Read More
+ More Local Sports