The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team had a rocky start in the WIAA regional semifinal game on Tuesday night, but rallied back to earn an overtime win. The Hodags would score three straight after being down two goals and got the game-winner in overtime from sophomore Danny Zuiker, as RHS earned the 5-4 victory at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.
Just under six minutes in overtime, Harlan Wojtusik had the puck in the corner and found Freddy Wisner behind the end liner. Wisner passed it to Zuiker around the blue line, and Zuiker buried the shot passed Stanford Swid for the game-winner as Rhinelander moves on to the regional finals.
Although the night did not start as planned for the Hodags. After a Rhinelander turnover in the defensive zone, Max Beste of Mosinee fired a shot that snuck between Seth Stafford's legs only 22 seconds into the game to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Mosinee would use their early momentum and would strike again to go up 2-0. Trey Fitzgerald would beat Stafford on a wraparound attempt that went right in front of the goal, and Keign Charneski was there to tap the puck in.
As bleak as things were looking for Rhinelander, they continued to battled and would claw their way back into the contest. At 11:54 in the first period, Wisner would tally the Hodags' first goal of the night that bounced off an Indians skate to pull them back within one-goal.
The second period proved to be a slow start for both teams, until Rhinelander finally scored at 11:29 to tie the game up 2-2. Abe Laggis scored on a backdoor opportunity and was assisted by Wisner and Matthias Schneider.
But that spark of momentum wouldn't last long, as the Indians pushed right back and scored 1 minute, 23 seconds later to go back ahead. Fitzgerald scored on a 3-on-2 break, assisted by Beste and Spencer Schmirler.
Mosinee only needed 40 seconds in the third period to double their lead at 4-2. Charneski charted his second goal of the night, after poking home the puke that bounced in front of the net.
But once again, the Hodags did hang their heads and remained persistent. Abe Laggis would score with 9:12 remaining in regulation to pull RHS within one again. Laggis caught Swid out of position and fired a shot from the left faceoff circle.
Rhinelander would then convert on their first power play of the night after Brodie Murray was called for interference. Wojtusik scored on a backdoor for his 15th goal this season, assisted by Wisner and Bridger Flory with only 3:53 left in the third period. Not only did it give RHS momentum but it tied the game up 4-4.
Mosinee did not want to give up their early 2-0 and 4-2 lead and pushed back in the final minutes. Schmirler missed a backhand chance about a minute after Wojtusik's goal. And Zuiker was called for tripping with 23 seconds left in an effort to prevent a Fitzgerald breakaway. But as the Hodags dodged a bullet, the Indians fired another right before the buzzer. Fitzgerald beat out two defenders but Stafford tipped his shot away to go into overtime.
In Rhinelander's first playoff win since 2014, they outshot Mosinee 33-24 on the night which included a 14-7 edge in the third and 4-1 advantage in overtime. Stafford charted the win with 20 saves.
The Hodags will now face second-seed Northland Pines at the Eagle River Sports Arena on Thursday night in the WIAA regional final match. Rhinelander fell to the Eagles both matches this season, and are hoping the third time is the charm. Faceoff is set for 7:00PM.
The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team ran out of steam after playing back-to-back games and Mosinee rallied in the third to defeat the Hodags 4-3. The Indians scored three goals in a 3 1/2 minute span in the final period to earn the Great Northern Conference regular season finale at the Rhinelander Ice Arena on Friday night.
Rhinelander started the night strong and scored the first two goals of the night, but Mosinee would pull within one after scoring with only 55 seconds left in the first.
Neither team scored in the second period, but the Indians had the momentum down the stretch and scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-2 lead. The Hodags scored a late third period goal to pull back within one, but could not convert the equalizer.
Junior Freddy Wisner started the scoring off for RHS, and would score just 1:38 into the game on an assist from Abe Laggis. Fellow junior Bridger Flory scored at 12:10 on a rebound in the first to give the Hodags a 2-0 advantage.
Less than a minute left in the first, Keign Charneski of Mosinee scored to bring the Indians within on goal after a third rebound and scramble in front of the Hodags' net. Max Beste and Trey Fitzgerald were credited with the assists on Charneski's goal. The triple threat would finish scoring six of Mosinee's nine points on the night.
Fitzgerald started the third period scoring off with 9:16 left in the contest on a powerplay and scored on a pass from Grant Lindell. Fitzgeralds' goal also tied the game up 2-2.
Exactly 30 seconds later, the Indians would take the lead and never looked back. Gunner Colbert was credited for the goal, that actually scored after it was deflected off forward Hunter Hicks' skate.
Mosinee would double their lead just minutes later, after Fitzgerald connected on his second goal of the night, this time a short-handed score.
Rhinelander scored a goal with only 3:10 left in the contest to pull within one at 4-3. Wisner charted his second goal of the night, this time on an assist from Matthias Schneider and Laggis.
With just under three minutes left to play, the Hodags pulled goalie Seth Stafford in an attempt to score and force an overtime. Unfortunately, the Indians stopped the 6-on-4 power play and would win their fourth game of the season, after some late roughing penalties were called.
After the GNC loss, Rhinelander fell into a fourth-place tie with Lakeland in the conference standings. The Hodags will host their first playoff game in nine years Tuesday night and will face the Indians again. Faceoff is set for 7:00PM at the RIA and the winner will move on to take on Northland Pines on the road on Thursday in the regional final match.
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