RHINELANDER - A flurry of third-period goals turned a nail-biter into a comfortable victory for the Rhinelander High School boys hockey team Thursday night.
The Hodags lit the lamp three times in the final session to beat Medford, 4-0, at Rhinelander Ice Arena.
With the win, Rhinelander reached its third win of the year in seven games. In each of the last three seasons, the Hodags tallied just three wins for the entire year.
"One way we can go is into Christmas and just be delighted we have three wins," RHS coach M.J. Laggis said after the game. "We want to focus on the positive, but we want to stay hungry and realize we're not content with three wins."
Calin Erdmann scored twice for Rhinelander, doubling his season goal total.
"You saw us cycle that puck out of the corner and get them to collapse. We talked about getting it up top and then driving the net, letting that shot go, and making mayhem," Laggis said.
Jacob Arno saved ten shots in goal for the Hodags to record his first shutout of the season.
Rhinelander avenged a 3-2 home loss to Medford last year, in which the Hodags outshot the Raiders 53-15.
"(Medford's Carter) Jamieson, he's just a tough goalie. We put so many shots on him last year, one of the most frustrating losses I've been a part of here at home."
This time, Rhinelander outshot Medford 45-10 and made the scoreboard match the disparity in shots.
Erdmann opened the scoring 4:29 into the game, netting a well-struck shot from the right circle. Trent Wild picked up the assist.
Scoring went dry after that. The teams went into both first and second intermissions with a 1-0 score.
"Lots of pipes and crossbars," Laggis commented.
The coach didn't like the feeling at second intermission.
"You have that gut-wrenching feeling after the second (period) when it was 1-0 and we had 28 shots. But we came out in the third and buried some pucks," Laggis said.
The scoring got started quickly for the Hodags in the third. As Henry Kipper was falling to the ice 3:20 into the period, he put a shot past Jamieson to make it 2-0.
Just 28 seconds later, Erdmann tallied again, putting home a Kyle Loher rebound. Wild picked up another assist on the play.
At the 7:10 mark, Kade Kennedy got his first goal as a Hodag, sneaking in a bouncing puck with assists from Kurt Zuiker and Evan Erdmann.
"That's an example of just, get it to the net and something good happens," Laggis said.
The victory was also Rhinelander's first conference win of the season. They improved to 1-3-0 in Great Northern Conference play, and 3-4-0 overall.
Medford fell to 1-8-0, 0-5-0.
The Hodags now break for more than two weeks.
"Over Christmas break, there's going to be so much focus on making goalies move and getting that puck to the net," Laggis said.
Rhinelander returns to the ice January 6 against Merrill at RIA.