Medford not at Superior’s level yet; season ends in 8-0 loss
WIAA DIV. 2 BOYS HOCKEY
The WIAA’s new divisional playoff format for boys hockey didn’t mean the Medford Raiders got away from potentially facing one of the state’s traditional powers. They just faced a different one.
The sixth-seeded Raiders did what they could, but they were overmatched by third-seeded Superior and fell 8-0 Thursday in the regional final round of the WIAA tournament.
The loss ended a successful season at 13-10-1, while the Spartans (9-15-1) went on to face second-seeded Hayward in a sectional semifinal Tuesday, which they lost 4-3. Hayward will play fourth-seeded Rice Lake in Saturday’s sectional final at Superior.
While the two-division format got Medford away from the chance of playing a team like Eau Claire Memorial, a program that recently went to state nine straight times. Instead, the Raiders got a Superior program that has made 37 state appearances since 1971.
“I didn’t think that they had any players that really stood out, but pretty much all of them played the game at a high level,” Medford head coach Galen Searles said. “Their passing was pinpoint. Their puck control was so good. It was Northland Pines like. Heading into the game, I didn’t take much stock in their record because of who they’ve played.”
The Raiders nearly got out of the first period only down 1-0 but Superior got a goal with 1:14 left to double its lead. The Spartans broke the game open with a pair of quick two-goal spurts that made it 6-0 and put the game out of reach.
Superior jumped ahead quickly, getting a goal 49 seconds in from Gunnar Hansen, who took the assist from behind the net from Sean McCoshen and beat Raider goalie AJ Adleman.
From there, the Raiders settled in and kept the Spartans off the board until that key goal from Ethan Welch at 15:46. Hansen and Carson Gotelaere had the assists.
“In the first period, we were able to do what we’ve done the last few games, doing a good job of keeping them to one shot,” Searles said. “They’d put a shot on net and we did a very good job of clearing the puck out to the corners.”
Searles said Superior’s offensive strategy changed in the second period and, eventually, it paid off for the Spar- tans. Gotelaere and Hansen lit the lamp 30 seconds apart at 5:21 and 5:51. Gavin Tetzlaff and Drew Scharte scored goals 38 seconds apart at 7:02 and 7:40 to suddenly make it a 6-0 game.
“In the second period, they worked their offense down low more and attacked from AJ’s right side,” Searles said. “Everything came out of the corners and they cycled the puck very well.”
With the running clock in play and the game out of reach, Medford went to a third line and got more skaters playoff experience on the ice. The Raiders had just one shot on goal in the period, while Superior put 15 on net with Kobe Hansen scoring goals at 12:01 and 16:21.
“We talked to the boys beforehand and said there is the possibility this could be the last game so leave it all on the ice,” Searles said. “In that first period, we played with them the best that we could. In the second period when they broke it open, you could see they were realizing it wasn’t going to have the positive outcome they were looking for.”
Adleman wound up with 50 saves, 22 of which came in the first period. He had 15 more in the second period and 13 in the third.
Medford put 10 shots on Superior goalie Jamin Durfee, including six in the opening period. Searles said the Raiders didn’t have many good scoring opportunities, but he said Durfee did make two big saves at one point on forward Carter Pernsteiner on the same shift.
The Raiders say goodbye to a sevenmember senior class that includes key veterans Adleman, Austin Waldhart, Dalton Hraby and Kyle Petrick as well as Conner Carbaugh, Brody Brunner and exchange student Taksaphol Wongsaen. Petrick set a Medford record by playing in 87 varsity games. Adleman leaves with several goal-tending records including single-season (five) and career shutouts (seven), single-season (90.8%) and career (88.7%) save percentage and a single-season goals against average of 2.9.
The team tied the school record with 13 wins.
“I think the guys were happy with the season,” Searles said. “I think the teams we should have performed well against, we did. I think we improved our playmaking ability and had a lot more guys seeing things on the ice. Hopefully we take another step next year. The juniors will be a year older, bigger, stronger. Hopefully we can have even more success against some of those close conference opponents we had this year like Antigo, Lakeland and Mosinee. It was a successful season.”