HOCKEY: The same but very differentTim Smith and Cole Lundgren are very much alike. And they are also very much different.
By: Ken Olson, The Daily Telegram
Tim Smith and Cole Lundgren are very much alike. And they are also very much different.
The two are seniors on this year’s Superior High School boys hockey team. They’re also captains, they both play defense and both have been playing varsity hockey for the Spartans since they were freshmen.
After that, their true colors come out.
Lundgren is a defensive defenseman while Smith is the risk taker, a la Bobby Orr, and isn’t afraid to rush the puck trying to create some offense.
“I think we’re a pretty good combination,” Smith said. “If I run up in the play, I know he’ll take care of the house. It’s good to know that he’ll always be back there.”
Evidence of their different playing styles is that Smith has 14 goals and 14 assists, while Lundgren has only one goal along with 16 assists.
“The two of us complement each other greatly,” Lundgren said. “I’m more of a defensive player and Tim likes to get up in the play a lot and I’ll stay back and cover him.
“I don’t really care about scoring goals that much, as long as we win it doesn’t matter to me.”
And winning the Spartans are as they have outscored their last three opponents 16-1 to advance to this week’s WIAA Boys State Hockey Tournament in Madison.
Smith and Lundgren are defensive partners for the first time since they were freshmen. Last year Lundgren teamed with Matt Bombich and Smith was with Chris Bishop, then a freshmen.
“Timmy’s a great two-way player,” SHS coach Jason Kalin aid. “He’s developed into one heck of a defenseman and is a very good leader for us. On the other hand, Cole always had a lot of speed and he’s a very defensive defenseman.
“If you look at his stats, with only one goal, that really shows that he cares about the defensive zone more than anything else. He’s also very fast and I never lose any confidence when he’s back on a play and somebody’s breaking because I think he can catch him.”
Smith and Lundgren actually started skating together as termites in the Superior Amateur Hockey Association.
“I’ve played with Tim my whole life,” Lundgren said. “I can remember when we were little and watching everybody pushing chairs around the ice and we didn’t have to. We were always able to skate.”
Smith’s memory isn’t as good as Lundgren’s.
“I don’t remember anything like that,” Smith said. “I’ve been running around the rink since I’ve been 2, and my mom tells me stories, but beyond that I don’t know.”
As teammates they played in two youth state tournaments, including taking second on the Squirt A team. Now the two are 4-for-4 for playing in the high school state tournament.
“It’s pretty cool,” Lundgren said. “It’s something that not a lot of people get to experience — going to a state tournament four years in a row for any sport.
“Just playing in front a big crowd, there’s so many people down there, that makes the whole trip. People look forward to it every year and I’m lucky enough to know what it was like every year. Each year it got better.”
During their freshmen season, the Spartans defeated Arrowhead in overtime in the state championship game. The next year they lost in the quarterfinals then last year they lost to Fond du Lac in the championship game.
“I didn’t really play much my freshman year, I think I got one or two shifts,” Lundgren said. “But I also remember the championship game, and how awesome it was.”
Smith also has fond memories of the previous three state tournaments, but said the best memory would be winning the whole thing this year.
“Right now last year is probably the best memory when we made it to the championship game,” Smith said. “We came up short, but hopefully we can do a little better this year.”
Smith also wants to help carry on the rich tradition of Spartan hockey. “It is a tradition thing,” Smith said. “We’re expected to go (to state), if we don’t go it’s an unsuccessful season. We don’t judge it on wins and losses a lot of times, we judge it on how we do in the playoffs.”
“And this year, hopefully we get a state championship,” Lundgren added. “That’s our goal and hopefully we can accomplish it.”
Prior to playing any games, it’s up to Smith, Lundgren and junior captain Pat Dalbec to prepare the rest of the team for the next three days.
“We’re going to talk to the players who haven’t been there and tell them what the atmosphere is like and how the ice is — it’s really slow,” Lundgren said. “It’s a great atmosphere to play in.”
“Timmy and Cole carry with them a great deal of baggage and I mean that in a good way,” Kalin said. “With the experience they have they carry with them a lot of that tradition that’s built into our program already. They drive this team emotionally, they give respect to the tradition and it means a lot to both of them to carry that on by not only our performances on the ice, but also the type of mannerisms with how we prepare for games is carried on.
“That’s what I meant by baggage, they have a great deal of experience that they can carry with them in the locker room. There’s going to be a lot of chatter with what to expect down there. And with their experience, it’ll be kind of nice because the other kids can go to those guys and it’ll take a little bit of pressure off myself.”
Lundgren’s plans are to take engineering classes at UMD next school year, while Smith plans to taking his hockey to the next level.
“I’d love to play college hockey, but right now I plan on going to UMD,” Lundgren said. “I could also play football, but don’t know if I want to do that. I’ve talked to St. Scholastica (about football), but they don’t have any of the classes that I want to go into.”
As for Smith, next week he will rejoin Team Wisconsin (18-and-under), which plays in a league before and after the high school season.
“The AAA state tournament is the next week in Green Bay,” Smith said. “We’ll practice next Thursday and begin playing on Friday.”
Smith was also drafted by Sioux Falls in the USHL and will tryout for that team in June.
“Sioux Falls tryouts are in June and hopefully, if everything goes well, I’ll be playing in the USHL next year,” Smith said.
An assistant coach for Team Wisconsin is Superior’s Sean Storie, a long-time Spartan assistant coach.
Superior has only played University School of Milwaukee once and defeated them in the first round in the 2004 state tournament.
Other than that, all they know is that they carry with them a 14-7-2 record.
“I talked to Ryan Sarazin (former Spartan assistant coach and Fond du Lac head coach) a little bit and tried to get some information on what kind of systems they run,” Kalin said. “People are going to talk and they’re going to know about as much about as us as we know about them. So we’re going to just prepare for the game and stick to what works best for us.
“We’re just going to have to play our style of hockey and working as we can to get into the second round.”
Tentative lines for Superior are Wade Berkseth centering Mike Plummer and Andrew Mattson; Noah Gilbertson in the middle of Dalbec and Mitch Kontny; Taylor Leuthner with James LaPine and Kellen McCoshen and Nate Miner joining John LeDoux and Dan Kolenda. Tyler Plunkett may also get into the mix.
“The third and fourth lines played equally well on Saturday, and I won’t hesitate to play either line against a third line from the other team,” Kalin said. “I can tell you right now that there won’t be another team down there that will play four lines. We’re going to be the only team that will accomplish that in this tournament.”
Defensive pairs are Smith and Lundgren, Vance Plunkett and Bishop and Cory Wilander along with Andrew Bronson or Jake Tollas.
“It’s win or go home now, so, as long as at the end of the day you know you left everything on the ice you can be pretty happy,” Smith said. “Everything has to come to an end, but as long as you know you left everything out there you should be able to live with it.”
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“Not only are we going down there to try and win a state championship, but we’re looking for these kids to have a very positive experience, one that they can have memories about and carry on for the rest of their lives,” Kalin said. “I still remember my state tournaments and how much fun they were. It’s a great feeling, but there emptiness in that locker room too. We have won it since Timmy and Cole were freshmen, and they’re very excited for that opportunity.”