Following a 12-0 loss to Mosinee Friday night, the Northland Pines boys hockey team bounced back to beat Hayward 2-0 Saturday afternoon to claim third place in the annual Pines Classic at the Dome last weekend.

University School of Milwaukee won the Pines Classic championship game, beating Mosinee 6-1 Saturday.

In a one-sided affair Friday, Mosinee took it to the Eagles in the semifinal. Pines kept the game close in the first period, trailing 1-0 and having a goal called off that would have made it 1-1. But then the wheels fell off and Pines gave up seven goals in the second period and another four in the third period.

“After the first we knew we had our hands full as Mosinee is a very skilled veteran team that we just did not match up with,” said Pines coach David Cox. “The bottom line is we lost our focus between the first and second periods of what we needed to do to be successful against a club of that caliber. In high school sports you have to bring energy every night and have the mental toughness to overcome what happens during a game.”

Cox said the Eagles did not give goalie Eli Kerner much help defensively, giving Mosinee way too much time and space with the puck in the second period.

“In the third it was a track meet up and down the ice and that is not the type of game we want to play with this group. We talk about it all the time that we have to take away our opponent’s key advantages and Mosinee is not a team you want to give any time and space to,” said Cox.

But Pines regrouped in a short turn around to face Hayward in the third-place game of the Pines Classic on Saturday.

“After the beating we took Friday night, you never know what kind of response we were going to get from the kids,” said Cox. “Our kids played with a lot of heart and emotion and took the missing components and found out they have it inside of them to rally for a great team effort. We were down a couple kids from the night before and the 14 that suited up gave us 51 minutes of solid heart and drive.”

Hayward featured a goalie that has all-state level ability, but that didn’t keep the Eagles from scoring first. A kick pass from Logan Kramsvogel to Zach Szafranski and a great low shot from Zack Szafranski allowed Matthew Szafranski to redirect a rebound past the committed Hayward goaltender for the early 1-0 lead.

“That really settled us down as the past two games we saw an early goal be called off and change the game right off the bat for us,” said Cox. “From there it was a back-and-forth game that saw Eli Kerner play some of his best hockey this season and our team defense was solid.”

It wasn’t until the 9:58 mark of the third period that the Eagles got a little breathing room on a tipped deflection goal from Gaige Marien. Kramsvogel picked up his second assist feeding one through traffic to Marien.

“Gaige has been so close all season to breaking out offensively for us and he had a beauty there and much needed goal,” said Cox. “Logan then took off on an end-to-end rush and patiently held the puck while circling the offensive zone before spotting a good shooting lane to the net.”

After that it was 10 minutes of defensive hockey that saw Hayward bring the pressure and Kerner turning them away time after time. Kerner made nine saves in the period and 18 in the game.

“We were tired and starting to make some poor choices with the puck and give them a little time and space with the puck in our zone, but Kerner was up for the task,” said Cox.

Hayward had a 6-on-4 advantage in the last 2 minutes, pulling their goalie on the power play, but the brother duo of Matthew and Zach Szafranski controlled the puck with August Nordine and Tyler Glauner on defense shutting Hayward down in the last two minutes.

“It was a good team win and we will take a lot from this weekend moving forward,” said Cox. “I think our kids grew up a little bit this weekend and found that the only thing holding them back is themselves.”



Lakeland loss

The Northland Pines boys fell to Lakeland 5-1 in a Great Northern Conference (GNC) match up last Tuesday night.

“I thought our kids matched and out-played Lakeland at times throughout the night. In the first period, we really played hard but once again lacked offensive punch that limited our ability to take control. We scored a nice goal on the rush toward the middle of the period, but an inadvertent early whistle erased what would have been a big goal for us.”

Within the next 30 seconds, Lakeland was able to force a turnover shorthanded in Pines’ zone that resulted in a questionable goal.

“That goal could have easily been negated as the Lakeland player propelled the puck into the net off his body and the referee allowed the goal to stand. That really changed things and allowed Lakeland to take a 1-0 lead into the locker room in a period I felt we took it to them,” said Cox.

In the second, Pines gave up four goals sandwiched around the Eagles’ lone power play goal to make it 5-1. Zach Szafranski scored the lone goal on a bang-bang passing play from Kramsvogel that beat the Lakeland goalie through the 5-hole.

“We made far too many mistakes handling the puck and gave Lakeland too much time and space to make plays during that second period,” said Cox. “We challenged them in the third to play with a sense of urgency and keep the score at 5 on their side and we accomplished that. It was not a lost night by any means. Lakeland is a very solid team and they showed why they are tops in the conference by capitalizing on our mistakes.”

Pines, 2-11 overall and 0-6 in the GNC, was scheduled to host Medford on Tuesday of this week and will play at Ashland this Friday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. and then will travel to Superior Saturday, Jan. 29, for a 1 p.m. contest.