The Lakeland boys hockey team is playing phenomenal as of late.

After losing in a shoot-out to second seeded Waupaca last week, the Thunderbirds beat Mosinee 5-3 on Friday, Jan. 1 and then took care of Tomahawk 3-2 on Saturday to win the fifth place game of the Great Northern Conference.

The Thunderbirds struck first Friday night at Mosinee and took a first period lead when Bryce Gilbertson scored off assists from Joe Beda and Max Toijala.

Mosinee would answer right away in the second period, though, when Quinn Seeger scored off assists from Gunner Colbert and Max Best.  

But towards the end of the period Joe Beda scored off a Toijala assist and the Thunderbirds regained the lead, making it was 2-1 T-Birds at the second intermission.

Just 15 seconds into the third period Gilbertson would add to the Lakeland lead and score unassisted and the Thunderbirds were up 3-1.

Mosinee would answer, though, four minutes later when Brodie Murray scored for the Indians and the game was 3-2.  

But Joe Beda would add another goal for Lakeland 10:09 into the third and give the T-Birds a two goal lead.  

About a minute later Mosinee would threaten again when Seeger scored his second goal of the game on a power play. But 15:38 into the third Teag Wagner canceled that out with an empty netter, off Toijala’s play-making third assist of the game, and the Thunderbirds held on for the 5-3 victory.

Lakeland head coach Jake Suter was impressed with the way his team stepped up while missing one of their captains Kyle Schaub, who was out due to illness.

“We had our leaders step up in the game,” Suter said. “We were without Kyle Schaub and the line of Toijala, Beda, and Gilbertson really stepped up and had a huge game. All three played a great game.”

Both teams were on the attack as Lakeland fired 38 shots while Mosinee had 35. 

In the net, Lakeland’s Collin Guelcher had 32 saves while Stanford Swid had 33 for Mosinee.

The win set up a game semi-final against Tomahawk on Saturday, Jan. 2.

In that contest Tomahawk took the early lead, four minutes into the first period, when Jordan Tomaszewski  scored off a Max Bembinster assist.

But 10:07 into the second Lakeland’s Bryce Gilbertson tied the game at one with a goal off assists from Teag Wagner and Tyler Gillich. 

A minute and a half later the T-Birds took a 2-1 lead when Max Toijala scored off assists from Keegan McJoynt and Joe Beda, but Tomahawk would tie the game before the second period ended as Jerett Flynn scored off a power play set up by a River Nicklaus tripping penalty. And at the end of the second period the score was 2-2.

Lakeland’s McJoynt, however, would score what would be the game winner, 4:27 into the third period, with a goal off assists from Beda and Toijala.

Though impressed with his skaters’ game, head coach Jake Suter gives major credit for the victory to goalie Collin Guelcher, who fought off one onslaught after the other on his way to making an astounding 51 saves, as the T-Birds were outshot by the Hatchets 53-26.

“Collin Guelcher stole the show making multiple huge saves and giving our guys a chance to win the game,” Suter said. “One of his best performances of the year.”

At the tournament the all-GNC hockey team was announced and two Thunderbirds were recognized. Max Toijala was named to the second team as a forward while Collin Guelcher was an honorable mention as a goalie.

Next up for the Lakeland is a home game against Ashland tonight at 7 p.m.

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