The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team went 2-0 in their home Holiday Tournament to finish first place out of four teams. The Hodags defeated Baraboo/Portage 4-1 on Friday night at the Rhinelander Ice Arena and would win the championship game on Saturday also 4-1 over Sheboygan.
Rhinelander started the night out strong against the Thunderbirds and would build an 2-0 advantage in the first period after a late push. RHS would hold an 18-6 lead on shots in the first. Senior Freddy Wisner put the Hodags on the board after scoring at 10:38 just after a cross-checking penalty from Baraboo/Portage expired. Juniors Abe Laggis and Danny Zuiker were credited with assists to put Rhinelander up 1-0.
And just 17 seconds into a power play at 16:03 in the first sophomore Conor Pequet would put the Hodags up 2-0 on an assist from Wisner and sophomore Harlan Wojtusik. And Rhinelander would need that early edge after the Thunderbirds controlled the tempo in the second and pulled back with a goal.
Baraboo/Portage would outshoot RHS 17-2 in the second period. Rhinelander's defense killed off a 5-on-3 power play but gave up a goal in the final second before the end of the second period. Mike Wech put one past goalie Seth Stafford at 16:59 to give the Thunderbirds late momentum.
The Hodags were lucky to have Laggis back in the lineup after sustaining a knee injury the previous week against Waupaca. Laggis charted an early assist in the contest and would score at 10:16 in the third to give put Rhinelander ahead by two goals again.
With only 1:19 remaining in the contest, senior Bridger Flory recorded an empty netter to account for the Hodags' final goal and gave RHS a three-goal victory.
On the night, Rhinelander held a 33-29 edge on shots. Stafford earned the win with 28 saves as the Hodags advanced to Saturday’s championship match against Sheboygan where they also won 4-1 after taking advantage three power-play goals to finish first in the four-team tournament.
Zuiker scored Rhinelander's first goal and last goal in the championship game, both on power-plays. The first was at 11:55 in the first period on an assist from Laggis after Zach Tuzinkewich was called for slashing. RHS held a 8-7 edge on shots in the first.
Senior Sam Tjugum would put Rhinelander ahead 2-0 after scoring at 5:26 in the second period. But the goal advantage wouldn't last long as the Red Raiders scored at 13:04. Bennet Dale scored to pulled Sheboygan within one, but proved to be their only goal despite both teams recording 11 shots in the second period.
Rhinelander would add a pair of insurance goals in the third period to secure the three-goal victory. Wisner scored on a powerplay at 7:09 on an assist fro Laggis. And Zuiker added his second power-play goal at 10:29 on an assist from Laggis and Wojtusik.
Stafford would finish with 27 saves for the Hodags. And Rhinelander held a slight 30-28 edge on total shots. RHS advanced to 8-4-0 overall this season and will be back in action on Thursday when they travel to Stevens Point to take on Pacelli.