Shawano boys hockey co-op falls short against Medford

Co-op unable to cash in ample amount of opportunities
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Shawano boys hockey co-op had plenty of scoring opportunities, but were only able to take advantage of a few during a 9-4 loss to Medford on Jan. 10 at the Crawford Center in Shawano.

The Shawano co-op came into the contest outnumbered, with only four players available off the bench, but were up to the challenge in the early going.

Shawano, rostering players from Shawano and Bonduel this winter, got an early power play opportunity. The co-op got some decent looks at the net, but weren’t able to cash in. It was a sign of things to come, as Shawano was outscored 2-0 on power player chances despite having more chances than Medford.

Shawano co-op coach Adam Gafner said a few things hindered the team in the loss, with one being its limited bench due to several injuries this season.

“I think the biggest thing that struggled for us tonight though was the power play,” said Gafner. “We had many opportunities where we were 5-on-4, 5-on-3 and those were the times pucks weren’t bouncing our way and getting in the back of the net. Probably the biggest difference in the game was when they had an extra guy, (the puck) went in our net, and when we (had extra guys), it wasn’t. Otherwise it was a fairly even played game…”

Gavin Hundt got off a couple shots for the co-op before the team was tagged for its first penalty. Goalie Blake Knope made a couple saves to keep the contest scoreless before Louis Hrabik broke the scoring with a goal off an assist from Karson Stoss.

The lead was short-lived however, with Medford scoring 25 seconds later.

Shawano got another power play opportunity a couple minutes later, only to be tagged with a penalty of its own. Medford scored 48 seconds later to take a 2-1 lead.

After the team’s penalty times ran out, Hundt tied the contest back up with an unassisted goal with 3:28 to play in the period.

About 1½ minutes later, the visitors scored again for a 3-2 lead. The back-and-forth battle continued with Hunter Jones scoring for the co-op with 9 seconds left in the period.

The action slowed a bit in the second period, with Shawano still appearing to be more in control of the game than Medford. Despite getting more opportunities, Shawano couldn’t capitalize and Medford netted a pair of goals in a 35-second period to take a 5-3 lead into the final period.

“We could have had some better shots on net,” said Hrabik. “A lot of the shots we did have, some of them were pretty weak and then we could have had some better setups in front of the net instead of shooting some of those times. I think that would have led to us having a couple more goals and maybe coming out with a win…”

In the final period, Shawano continued to get some quality looks at the net, including a few on a two-person advantage power play early on, but the hosts just couldn’t sneak a shot past the Medford goalie.

The co-op was later tagged for a penalty, and Medford took advantage with a goal to go up 6-3 with 7:54 to play. After a couple more close misses for the hosts, the visitors tacked on another goal with 6:25 left.

“I feel like we got more tired, they had a bit more guys than us,” said Hundt. “After our guy went out (with an injury) we had three guys sitting on the bench — can’t really get a full rotation in…”

Despite the four-goal deficit, the co-op continued to fight. Hundt scored his second unassisted goal of the contest with 6:08 to play, but the final two goals went to Medford to seal the game up. The visitors added their second power play goal with 1½ seconds left in the contest.

Knope was credited with 26 saves in the contest.

Playing in its first season as a varsity team, the Shawano co-op is trying to build a sustainable program. Hrabik, one of just two seniors on the roster, is doing what he can to try and lead a roster otherwise comprised of five freshmen, two sophomores and six juniors.

“We just got to move the puck a little more, really try and create some offensive plays, not just whip it when you don’t have to, and just pick your head up and make smart plays,” said Hrabik.

Medford 3 2 4 — 9

Shawano 3 0 1 — 4

First period

S: Louis Hrabik (Karson Stoss), 8:25

M: Tucker Phillips (unassisted), 8:00

M: Connor Gowey (Isaac Schaefer), 5:51

S: Gavin Hundt (unassisted), 3:28

M: Gowey (Miles Searles), 1:57

S: Hunter Jones (unassisted), 0:09

Second period

M: Cole Pernsteiner (Phillips), 13:07

M: Gowey (unassisted), 12:32

Third period

M: Schaefer (Phillips), 7:54 power play

M: Logan Koski (Phillips, Jake Noland), 6:25

S: Hundt (unassisted), 6:08

M: Noah Machon (Schaefer), 4:21

M: Gowey (Mason Harris, Schaefer), 0:01 PP