Sophomore forward AJ Buenning roofed a shot past Rhinelander goalie Seth Stafford with 57 seconds left in overtime to give the Mosinee Indians a 3-2 win over the Hodags in the D2 Sectional 2 semifinal game Tuesday evening at the Mosinee Rec Center.
The first period was scoreless despite over two dozen combined shots on goal. Stafford stopped 10 shots, while Mosinee netminder Stanford Swid made 15 saves for his team.
The home team garnered a pair of scores in the middle period to take control of the game. Well, temporarily.
After a penalty carried over from the first period, Mosinee had 46 seconds of power play time but would only need 36 seconds of that. Matej Rychtarik punched in a rebound for the early man advantage goal to give the home squad a 1-0 lead in front of a large and boisterous student section. Tobias Holka had an assist on the play.
The Hodags had a couple of good chances in the middle of the period, but couldn't score on a shot just over the bar and another just wide to the left.
A pair of penalties opened up the ice for some 4-on-4 action, and Rychtarik took advantage of it. The foreign exchange student from Piestany, Slovakia blazed down the right side and ripped a shot from the right dot that beat the Hodag goalie to make it 2-0 at the 13:44 mark. Trey Fitzgerald and Ben Lardinois had helpers on the play.
The period ended with no change in score, and each goalie had six saves in the stanza.
The team from Rhinelander owned the third period as they scored twice in a span of 82 seconds to tie the game.
The first half of the period was a pen fest, as four infractions were whistled—two by each team—but neither team converted until the Hodags got a PP goal on the final of the quartet of penalties.
Cal Laggis grabbed a rebound on the right side and converted to cut the lead to 2-1 with 6:32 left in the third. Leo Losch and JC Adams earned assists on the play.
Another Mosinee penalty 30 seconds later set up the Hodags again, and Max Spaulding tied the game, with an assist to Joe Schneider with 5:10 left.
Despite a couple of good scoring chances late in the period, the Hodags couldn't carry their momentum to victory, and the game would go to an eight-minute OT period.
Swid stopped 13 shots in a busy third, while Stafford had six saves.
Mosinee could not capitalize on an early period power play chance, but with the clock winding down, would score while playing even strength.
Buenning grabbed a pass from Fitzgerald and motored down the left side, wristing a shot from the left circle that beat the RHS goalie high on the glove side for the game-winner with 57 seconds left.
Saves in the period: Swid 7 (game total 41), Stafford 2 (game total 24).
Rhinelander finishes the season with a 12-14 mark and loses seniors Daniel Zuiker, Max Spaulding, Harrison Shinners, Konnor Kennedy, and Seth Stafford to graduation.
Mosinee improves to 18-8 and take on Northland Pines Saturday afternoon at the Mosinee Rec Center in the D2 S2 sectional final.