Spartans win in 5 overtimesBishop's goal gives Superior 2-1 win over River Falls and berth in Saturday's sectional championship game against New Richmond
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School boys hockey team has been to eight straight WIAA State Hockey Tournaments. Making it to nine straight was in severe jeopardy Tuesday night at Wessman Arena thanks to the River Falls Wildcats.
A chance for a ninth straight trip to state was kept alive when Chris Bishop scored an unassisted goal 30 seconds into the fifth overtime to give the Spartans a 2-1 victory over the Wildcats, ending a game that lasted almost four hours.
Superior (15-7-1) will now play the New Richmond Tigers (17-7-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wessman Arena with the winner advancing to next week’s state tournament in Madison.
The Tigers advanced to Saturday’s game with a 2-1 win Tuesday night over Menomonie.
After the Spartans and Tigers skated through a scoreless first period Tuesday night, each team scored once in the second.
That was all the scoring until the game ended when Bishop faked a shot at the blue line, skated around a defender, then put the puck over the shoulder of River Falls goaltender Garrett Jensen from the left circle.
Jensen finished with 57 saves overall while Superior’s Joel Pettingill had 36.
In a scoreless first period Superior killed off a pair of penalties in the first seven minutes of the game.
River Falls was outshot 14-6 in the opening period but still had two pretty good scoring chances, including when the Wildcats put a shot through the crease behind Pettingill with 10:21 on the clock.
The second chance came when Superior defenseman Jake Mergen was forced to help out by swatting the puck over the crossbar after a Pettingill save went high in the air.
Superior eventually wound up on a power play, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 55 seconds that carried over from the first period to the second.
River Falls survived the first penalty, but couldn’t on the second as Nolan Holcombe deflected a shot by Bishop over Jensen just 36 seconds into the second period. Mitch Kontny also helped out on Holcombe’s 13th goal of the season.
Each team had scoring chances after that as River Falls’ Dylan Dock hit the cross bar with 6:40 on the clock and Superior’s Tyler Plunkett tipped a Bishop shot that ended up on top of the Wildcat net.
With time winding down in the second period, Superior was called for icing with 3.2 seconds on the clock, setting up a faceoff to the right of Pettingill.
The play seemed harmless until River Falls’ Karl Andersen won the draw and Zach Lindquist poked the puck back to defenseman Cooper Maxwell, who ripped a slap shot past Pettingill from the point with 0:00 showing on the clock.
In a scoreless third period, Superior killed off the period’s only penalty, on Kontny with less than five minutes on the clock.
The game was delayed for about 20 minutes early in the first overtime when a Dock shot broke the glass behind the Spartan goal.
Superior killed off a Bishop holding penalty in the third overtime then a couple of minutes later went on its own power play when Andersen was called for hooking.
River Falls came close to scoring midway through the fourth overtime when Superior’s net came loose with the puck in the crease.
SPARTAN SPIN: The Spartans defeated New Richmond 3-1 earlier in the season in New Richmond. … Tickets for Saturday’s sectional final game may be purchased in advance in the SHS treasurer’s office from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today through Friday. Tickets are $4. ... River Falls assistant coach Patrick Gunderson graduated from Duluth East in 1995. … Bishop now leads the Spartans in points with eight goals and 22 assists. Kontny and Holcombe are tied for the team lead in goals scored with 13. … River Falls’ season ends with a 11-10-2 record. … Saturday's game may be heard locally on WNXR 107.3 FM. The game will also be carried live on the internet at ifan.tv.
River Falls 0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0—1
First Period: No scoring.
Penalties: Jake Mergen, SHS (interference), 2:31. Andrew Bronson, SHS (hooking), 6:39. Trey Peterson, RF (interference), 15:18. Dylan Dock, RF (cross checking), 19:24.
Second Period: 1. SHS, Nolan Holcombe 13 (Chris Bishop 22, Mitch Kontny 16), 0:36 (pp). 2. RF, Copper Maxwell 4 (Karl Andersen 11, Zach Lindquist), 20:00.
Penalties: No penalties.
Third Period: No scoring.
Penalties: Kontny, SHS, 12:41.
Overtime: No scoring
Second Overtime: No scoring.
Third Overtime: No scoring.
Penalties: Bishop, SHS (holding). Andersen, RF (hooking).
Fourth Overtime: No scoring.
Penatlies: Mergen, SHS (tripping).
Fifth Overtime: 3. SHS, Bishop 8 (unassisted).
Saves: Garrett Jensen, River Falls 57. Joel Pettingill, SHS 36.