The Medford Raiders once again had the Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team's number Tuesday night.
Medford scored twice on the power play and that proved to be enough as the Raiders fended off the Hodags 2-0 at the Rhinelander Ice Arena in a consolation game in the Great Northern Conference hockey tournament.
Rhinelander pumped 42 shots on net but was unable to get anything past senior goalie AJ Adleman, while the Raiders cashed in on two of their three power play chances in the contest.
"We took two penalties and they made us pay early on there," Rhinelander coach M.J. Laggis said. "The third penalty we actually had a nice kill, but the first two we just didn't have good kills. We're in such a funk on that penalty kill. We're just leaving the wide side open. We're not getting in the box or diamond, depending on what they're doing. We're just running around a little bit. I don't understand why we're doing it because we're working on it readily. We've just got to keep working on it and get guys to be in position."
Though Rhinelander took only four penalties in the contest, the infractions were against some of the team's top skaters, serving as a double whammy of sorts when the Hodags were on the kill.
"Penalties are 4-1 and, when we do that, we usually lose the game," Laggis said, noting the Raiders were penalized only once in the contest.
Carter Pernsteiner scored for Medford 50 seconds after Rhinelander's leading scorer, Harlan Wojtusik, was taken to the penalty box for cross-checking.
Wojtusik's linemate, Joe Schneider, was set to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct at the 7:07 mark of the second period. Five seconds later, Warryck Leonhardt collected a rebound goal to give the Raiders a two-goal lead.
"Unfortunately, we took some foolish penalties and paid the price," Laggis said. "We ran around on the first power play we got scored on there. The second one was more just an opportunity to clear it and we didn't."
The Hodags pulled goalie Seth Stafford with 1:36 remaining in the contest for an extra attacker, but could not find the back of the net despite some good looks.
It was an all too familiar story for the Hodags (9-13-0) this season, as they outshot the Raiders 42-24 but came out on the short end of the scoreboard.
"If you looked at our 13 losses, I bet there's nine of them where we outshot our opponent and there's a few of them were it's like tonight and shots are 42-24," Laggis said. "You convincingly outshoot them and, at times, have shots in traffic and good looks. There's a couple little backdoor plays we can't score and a number of things. We can't get one to fall.
"You've got to own the area in front of the opponent's net. We didn't do enough of that tonight. We'd generate shots. Some of them were long looks or easy saves and you need backdoors and tips, screens - all those things you work on all the time and couldn't get it done tonight."
Rhinelander lost the season series against the Raiders two games to one.
The Hodags won a GNC game 7-3 at Medford in December but then relinquished a 4-3 lead in the final two minutes of regulation to lose to the Raiders 5-4 in the championship game of the East/Merrill tournament last month in Merrill.
The loss relegates the Hodags to the seventh-place game of the Great Northern Conference tournament final. The Hodags will meet up with Tomahawk for the third time this season after the Hatchets were clobbered by Antigo 12-0 Tuesday night.
The game will take place at noon Saturday in the auxiliary rink at the Eagle River Sports Arena.
Rhinelander hosts East/Merrill in a non-conference game tonight at the RIA.
Freelancer Bob Mainhardt contributed to this report.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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