The Lakeland boys hockey team battled tough, but was outmatched Thursday, Feb. 14, at Northland Pines and the visiting Thunderbirds fell to the number one ranked Eagles 5-1 in the second round of the WIAA state tournament.

Pines didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard as Jack Rhode scored just 28 seconds into the game off assists from Tyler Hunt and Gunnar Schiffmann.  

Lakeland quickly regrouped though and, thanks to some stellar saves from goalie Colin Guelcher, the Thunderbirds kept the Eagles out of the net for the next 13 minutes before Rhode struck again, off assists from Riley McGee and Schiffmann, to put Pines up 2-0 at the first intermission.

Then 48 seconds into the second period, Rhode would score his third goal of the game, off assists from Hunt and Schiffmann, giving him a hat trick and Shciffmann a playmaker and Pines was well in control at 3-0.

Five minutes later Pines would cushion that lead with a goal by Harmon Marien, assisted by Hunt, who also was a playmaker with three on the night, and the Eagles would take a 4-0 lead into the second intermission.

Despite being down though, the Thunderbirds skated hard and fast and took on every hit Pines dealt out.

“Regardless of the score our guys never stopped working and there was no quit in their game,” Lakeland head coach Jake Suter said.

That resiliency paid off as the Thunderbirds avoided the shut out when Bryce Gilbertson scored for Lakeland 7:16 into the third period off assists from Riley Littleton and Max Toijala to make the score 4-1.

But Pines would add a final goal, 13:35 into the third, when Schiffmann scored off an assist by Alexander Sternhagen to make the final score 5-1.

Though their season was brought to a close, coach Suter was impressed by how his team battled against their formidable conference foe.

“A very good, hard-fought game against a tough opponent,” Suter said. “Although the outcome wasn’t in our favor I am extremely proud of the young men on this hockey team.”  

Lakeland finishes the season the 7-15-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the Great Northern Conference.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.