- Rhinelander hockey was fully outmatched in losing their second in a row to start the year, falling 9-1 at home to Chequamegon-Phillips Thursday night.
"We tried not to be overly negative in the locker room, but our guys know, especially our older guys know, we played really poorly all around," said coach M.J. Laggis.
The SEaLs (Screaming Eagles and Loggers) fired 37 shots on goal. The Hodags managed just 10. Rhinelander again rotated goalies. Jacob Arno started and yielded five goals in just more than a period. Alex Littleton struggled as well, giving up the remaining four.
Chequamegon-Phillips put up four goals in both the first and second periods.
"It's hard to find a positive out of that. We got on the scoreboard – I guess that was one thing – for the first time this year," said Laggis.
That goal was scored by Trent Wild just eight seconds into the second period. Wild emerged from a jumble following the period-starting faceoff and found himself open off the left circle, nailing a wrister for the tally.
The SEaLs were noticeably more physical and aggressive from the opening faceoff.
"I think some of our younger players were intimidated by that, maybe even some of our older players," said Laggis. "We had a couple players with some shifts that tried to (be pretty physical). Bobby Estabrook did that a handful of times. Even Henry Kipper, for a younger player, that third period, he had a couple of shifts where he really tried to put a shoulder into somebody."
The Hodags fell to 0-2-0 on the year, while Chequamegon-Phillips improved to 2-0-0. Both games for each team so far have been part of the Northern Wisconsin Hockey Challenge, which also features Marshfield and Tomahawk in a round-robin.
Rhinelander visits the Hatchets Saturday afternoon.
"We're not in a position where we can go into any game thinking we're the favorite," Laggis said. "We know if we play any team like we did tonight, that's going to be the result. We know what happens when we play bad hockey."
Faceoff is set for 1:00 pm at the Sara Park Ice Arena.
Written By: Ben Meyer