The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team despite being at 100%, executed their game plan against Lakeland on Thursday to advance to the sectional semifinal. The Hodags (No. 7 seed) upset the Thunderbirds (No. 2 seed) at the Lakeland Ice Arena. Jake Losch recorded two goal in the second period for RHS and Seth Stafford made 30 saves and was able to hold GNC player of the year Max Toijala from scoring.
Rhinelander had a number of players sick and not at full strength, including junior Harlan Wojtusik, which left them thin, but found a way to grind out the win. The Hodags would score three straight goals, and would fend off the Thunderbirds in the third, and only allowed one goal on the night.
Neither team would score in the first period, and finally junior Jake Losch would knock in a rebound off his younger brother Leo's initial shot to put RHS on the board at 1:40 in the second. He woul strike again at 12:41 on another rebound he got passed goalie Collin Guelcher to put the Hodags up 2-0. Jake Losch now has 14 goals this season and marked his third straight game with two goals.
The Hodags tacked on their third and final goal of the night at 5:58 in the third period, when Wojtusik drilled a shot from the left face-off circle. Turned out RHS would need that extra insurance goal, after running into penalty trouble down the stretch.
RHS defenseman JC Adams was called for cross-cheking at 7:15 in the third, and Lakeland cashed in on the powerplay goal from Teag Wagner at 8:01. The Thunderbirds got another opportunity a few minutes later when Joe Schneider was also called for cross-checking. But Stafford denied any attempts from Lakeland and would record 14 of his 30 saves in the final period.
Rhinelander called a timeout with just over two minutes left in the contest and the Thunderbirds would pull Guelcher for an extra attacker. But that threat diminished after Lakeland was called for icing that forced Guelcher back in the net and River Nicklaus was called for hooking with 11 seconds remaining.
The win highlighted one of the top momentum's for the RHS boys' hockey team this season, after a roller coaster year. Rhinelander is now 11-13 overall and tied for sixth in the GNC standings. The Hodags will be back on the ice on Tuesday for the sectional semifinal match against the Indians that will be at the Mosinee City Recreation Center. Face-off is set for 7:00PM.