The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team went 1-1 starting on Friday night to finish 3rd at the four-team invite at Pierce Park in Baraboo to take third overall. The Hodags started the tournament off, and fell 3-1 to Sheboygan on Friday before coming back to defeat GNC rival Tomahawk 8-3 on Saturday.
Rhinelander battled strong with the Red Raiders in the first two periods, but RHS committed seven penalties in the final 17 minutes and were unable to hold off Sheboygan who charted two goals in the third period. Tyler Sunagel led the Raiders with a hat trick, in which two were power play goals.
Neither team recorded goals in the opening period despite the Red Raiders holding a 11-3 advantage on shots. Sheboygan finally connected at 3:08 in the second period when Sunagel found the back of the net on an assist by Will Falconer.
But Rhinelander's Jake Losch would tie the match up 1-1, scoring with only 29 seconds left in the second period. But from there penalities hurt the Hodags and the Red Raiders took advantage. Both teams combined for 23 penalties for 54 minutes. Sheboygan converted 2-9 on powerplays which proved to be enough to stay ahead of RHS.
Sunagel scored at 4:06 in the final period to put the Raiders ahead by one goal. And with just over five minutes left in the contest, Sunagel struck again, this time on a 4-on-3 power play to extend Sheboygans lead to two goals.
Overall the Red Raiders held at 26-21 edge on shots and Seth Stafford took the loss in goal for Rhinelander, finishing with 23 saves. Maclane Schick earned the win in the net for Sheboygan and recorded 20 saves.
Then on Saturday against Tomahawk, Rhinelander had a slow start but would rally back and scored six unanswered points to come back and win 8-3. The Hatchets would score one goal in each period while RHS scored three goals in the second to go ahead and four in the third to put the game out of reach. The Hodags out-shot Tomahawk 41-16 on the day.
Conor Pequet stated the scoring off for Rhinelander at 7:43 in the first on an assist from Harlan Wojtusik. But Tomahawk answered with back to back goals starting late in the first and 5:50 in the second to take a 2-1 lead. Cody Scholz had the equalizer at 11:26 and Caleb Lund put the Hatchets ahead by one early in the second period.
From there the momentum shifted all to the Hodags who would rally back and score six unanswered goals starting with a goal from Wojtusik at 6:21. Harrison Shinners and Joe Schneider scored late in the second period to put RHS ahead 4-2.
The Hodags continued their scoring streak into the third period including a pair of goals from Wojtusik. His first coming at 6:07 and than Wojtusik completed his hat trick on a short-handed goal at 13:53. Pequet also scored on a powerplay at 9:35. And Tomahawk's Zack Friske broke the scoring streak for Rhinelander and connected with 2:43 left in the contest. But JC Adams had the last goal for the Hodags with only 1:13 left to give RHS a five-goal victory and were able to finish third overall.
Tomahawk went 1-3 on power plays and RHS finished 1-4. Overall the Hodags had a commanding 41-16 advantage on total shots including a 17-3 edge in the second period. Caleb Shefveland earned the win in the net and recorded 13 saves for the Hodags.
Rhinelander will once again take on Tomahawk on Thursday in a Great Northern Conference match up. Face-off is set for 7:00PM at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.