Raiders hit hard by Hodags, Warriors to start tough stretch
In the midst of arguably the toughest stretch of their 2020-21 schedule, the Medford Raiders hit a real rough spot on Tuesday.
The Rhinelander Hodags hit them with five first-period goals and didn’t stop scoring in a 13-1 blowout win at the Rhinelander Ice Arena. The win gave the Hodags a 5-2 record in the roundrobin portion of the Great Northern Conference schedule, while Medford finished 1-6 and has drawn the seventh seed in the GNC tournament, which starts Tuesday. The Raiders are 5-9-1 overall.
Tuesday’s game was the second in a stretch of four games in seven days, three of which are on the road. The Raiders also fell hard at Rice Lake Saturday and have another long trip tonight, Thursday, facing the Barron-based Northwest Icemen at 7 p.m. before hosting Marshfield tomorrow night at the Simek Center in non-conference play.
Rhinelander’s Joey Belanger scored 57 seconds into the game, then the first of Medford’s two major check from behind penalties that led to power play goals set the tone for what Medford head coach Galen Searles said was “a game to forget.” In a rare occurrence, Rhinelander scored four power-play goals on three power plays.
JC Adams and Joe Schneider scored after the early major penalty to put the Hodags up 3-0. Layne Roeser took advantage of a tripping infraction to make it 4-0 and Schneider scored 15:39 into the first for a 5-0 lead.
Schneider finished with four goals and Roeser and Harlan Wojtusik scored two apiece for the Hodags. Cal Laggis had a goal and three assists. Roeser’s second one came with two seconds left in the game on the final power play.
Medford’s goal was scored by Carter Pernsteiner with an assist from Miles Searles with 1:13 left in the second period. The score made it 9-1 at the time.
Ben Brunner had 28 saves in net for the Raiders, who had one power play in the third period. Rhinelander used three goalies, who combined for 14 saves.
Mosinee sits atop the GNC at 6-1. Northland Pines and Lakeland are both 5-1 and were scheduled to play Tuesday, but COVID issues with Lakeland forced that game to be taken off the schedule.
In pairings released Wednesday afternoon by the GNC, Northland Pines was awarded the one-seed in the conference tournament by virtue of its head-to-head win over Mosinee.
Mosinee is the two-seed and will host Medford in Tuesday’s opening round of the GNC tournament. Tomahawk is at Pines, Lakeland will host Antigo and Waupaca goes to Rhinelander.
Championship and consolation semifi nals are Jan. 28 and the final placement games are scheduled to be played Saturday, Jan. 30 at Lakeland.
Rice Lake 10, Medford 1
Six goals in the first period gave Rice Lake all the offense it needed to glide to a 10-1 win over the visiting Raiders in nonconference play Saturday night.
Cole Fenske scored five goals for the Warriors and added two assists. Five other players added a goal apiece, including Jace Fitzgerald, who had three assists.
Logan Searles scored Medford’s only goal, an unassisted tally that came 8:08 into the second period and made it a 7-1 game. The Warriors scored three goals after that in the period.
“The boys were a little overwhelmed in the first period,” Galen Searles said. “They settled down in the second and got some offensive chances. They finished up hard and didn’t give up.”
Searles said much of Rice Lake’s offensive success came on rebounds. Brunner finished with 22 saves. Ian Krance had 10 saves for Rice Lake. The Warriors were two for four on power plays. Medford had one chance that was unsuccessful.
Fenske scored his first goal 31 seconds in. He assisted on Adam Timm’s goal at 2:21. The key blitz started 7:42 into the period with a Fenske goal off a Keegan Gunderson assist. Mason Ewert scored off a Tristan Scheurer assist at 9:07, Scheurer got a goal off a Mason Roux assist at 9:46 and, just 14 seconds after that, Fenske got his hat trick off assists from Fitzgerald and Nathan Carroll to make it 6-0.
Fenske had the last two goals in the second-period blitz that capped the scoring.
Medford 6, Chequamegon 3
Pernsteiner had a big night Thursday, scoring four goals to lead the Raiders to a 6-3 non-conference win over the Chequamegon Team SEaL co-op at Simek Recreation Center.
The Raiders never led in the first two periods, but tied it at 3-3 late in the second and then went on a 3-0 run in the third to secure their fifth win of the season.
Brayden Machon added an empty-net goal and an assist as Medford’s first offensive line had a banner night.
“The first line has really been solid,” Galen Searles said after the win about the the line of Miles Searles, Pernsteiner and Machon. “We depend on them to carry the weight for our offense. Carter was the man, but his linemates are part of it. They’re a team. Brayden’s a valuable cog on that line. He’s usually the main grinder. He’s the guy that initiates the contact and is in the corner digging up the puck.”
Medford started sluggishly and Team SEaL took advantage by scoring the game’s first two goals. Brendan BeBeau got the first one just 1:15 into the game, flipping in a rebound off a shot by Marcus Vittone. BeBeau won a face-off in his defensive zone at the 7:47 mark and the puck trickled out to Vittone who started a two-on-one rush. He passed to Grant Kief who got his first shot stopped by Brunner, but he punched in the rebound.
Medford answered just 1:19 later as Pernsteiner, working solo, stole a pass in the offensive zone and put in the rebound off his one-on-one chance with Chequamegon goalie Chris Vittone.
Medford outshot Chequamegon 17-9 in the period and continued to put pressure on its defense in the second period. A goal at 5:23 was waved off as the net had come off before the shot. But at 6:29, Pernsteiner, skating along the left board, sniped a shot that caught Vittone by surprise and snuck into the net short side, above the blocker on the goal tender’s stick side. Logan Searles and Warryck Leonhardt were credited with assists.
The tie lasted just one minute as BeBeau scored off a centering pass from Kief. But the Raiders got the equalizer at 12:21 when Connor Gowey picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and then back-tapped it to Austin Stauffer, who buried the straight-on shot.
Medford easily killed a Chequamegon power play early in the third, then midway through the period, Brunner made back-to-back big saves on a breakaway and an open shot in front. At 7:17, Pernsteiner completed his hat trick by, again, stealing a puck that had just gotten out of the zone and firing a quick shot that Vittone was late reacting on.
Medford burned off another power play and then iced it in the final seconds. With an extra attacker on the ice for Chequamegon, the Raiders were able to clear the zone and Machon won a race to the puck, tapping it in with just 13.3 seconds left. The Raiders won the ensuing face-off and Pernsteiner got a shot to trickle through Vittone and just over the goal line with 1.5 seconds left.
Medford outshot Team SEaL 32-18 with Brunner collecting 15 saves.