Seniors Bryce Luebke (9), Ben Franson (3) and Bobby Estabrook were honored before a high school boys hockey game between Rhinelander and Mosinee Jan. 31 at the Rhinelander Ice Arena. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
2/2/2013 7:30:00 AM Mosinee downs Hodags 6-2 on senior night
The Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team struck first Thursday, but the Mosinee Indians had the last laugh on senior night at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.
Mosinee's Landon Stepan had a hat trick and a pair of assists as the Indians knocked off the Hodags 6-2 in a Great Northern Conference matchup.
For the Hodags, Thursday's game represented a vast improvement from the team's first meeting, a 8-0 victory by the Indians, Jan. 4 in Mosinee.
"We've improved and we worked hard, but we're still a long way from beating a team like Mosinee," RHS boys' hockey coach M.J. Laggis said. "We certainly did some things well tonight. We played hard in the defensive zone in the first period and we hung in there, even though we were outshot."
The Hodags struck first at the 9:04 mark. Cody Vinger gained a loose puck from the left point and slid a shot past Indians' goalie Jimmy Rogers. But the lead was short-lived. Stepan tied it 16 seconds later and the two teams played to a 1-1 tie after one period, despite Mosinee holding a 17-3 advantage in shots.
Mosinee took the lead on a Chris Tomski goal at the 5:20 mark. The Indians tacked on two more in the second and put to bed any notion of a Rhinelander comeback with a Jake Hrebik shorthanded goal 1:49 into the third. Stepan finished his hat trick at the 7:29 mark of the third.
"We just run out of legs. We try to compete with our most experieneced players and we run out of legs," Laggis said. "Especially when we take penalties, the effects are crippling. Staying out of the box is huge. Any penalty at all, especially in the second period with the difficult line changes, is difficult for us."
Rhinelander took six penalties in the game, three of which came in the final eight minutes of the second period.
Thursday was scheduled to be Rhinelander's final home game of the season, but freezing rain postponed the Jan. 29 home contest against Medford to tonight. The Hodags celebrated senior night for its three seniors - Ben Franson, Bryce Luebke and Bobby Estabrook - anyway. Two of those seniors hooked up late in the third period as Estabrook scored off a Franson assist with 6:52 to play.
"Bobby Estabrook's goal was also kind of a weird goal, but he proved the saying true that when you continue to throw the puck on net, it will eventually fall," Laggis said. "It was nice to see a senior get a goal tonight and I thought all three seniors - Bobby Estabrook, Ben Franson and Bryce Luebeke played very hard."
Mosinee outshot Rhinelander 39-13 for the contest. Jake Arno made 33 stops in the loss.
After the game, Laggis had an eye on the future, noting the play of the RIA's bantams and peewees, while keeping another eye on the home stretch of this season.
"The days of us getting beat up on are coming to an end. This year will be the end of that. We want to finish strong," he said.
Today's game against Medford faces off at 4:30 p.m. The Hodags defeated the Raiders 6-4 in Medford in December.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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