Spartans complete season sweep of Marshall, open playoffs Thursday nightSuperior hosts Somerset at 7 p.m. at Wessman Arena
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
DULUTH — Jason Kalin has never finished with a losing record in his 10 years as head coach of the Superior High School boys hockey team.
So when his team was trailing 1-0 after the first period Saturday afternoon at Duluth Marshall, was the Spartan coach worried? Not a chance.
“Until you brought it up I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Kalin said. “All I was worried about was the guys going out there and playing a solid game.”
It ended up that Kalin didn’t have anything to worry about as the Spartans rallied for a 4-1 win over the Hilltoppers to finish the regular season with a 12-11-1 record.
“I’m very pleased with the effort, the all-around performance by the entire team,” Kalin said. “Before the game we gave the kids a Top 10 list of things we need to do to be successful the rest of the season. The guys really bought into it and there was only one little scratch on the sheet tonight. Other than that we did nine of the things perfect. Everybody did everything the way we wanted it to happen.”
One item on the list was getting solid play from all four lines. That happened Saturday with the Spartans getting goals from three of the lines, including two from the second line of Taylor Olson, Joel Broberg and Aaron Wakefield.
“We talked about roles and what we need to get from everybody heading into the playoffs,” Kalin said. “Our second line did a great job and played its best game of the season by far.
“We need to have those kind of games to get back to state. All four lines need to help out, and three lines put forth points today. Everybody put in a great effort.”
The Mikel triplets, Richard, Gerald and Steven, combined on Superior’s first goal and Caleb Dushkin scored a short-handed goal 2:52 into the third period, which turned out to be the game-winner.
Darrick Howard gave Marshall a 1-0 lead with a short-handed goal 11:04 into the first period, which saw the Hilltoppers outshoot the Spartans 8-4.
“We played pretty good for the first seven minutes,” Kalin said. “We weren’t getting a lot of shots, but we were getting the puck deep just like we wanted to do and we were keeping it out of our defensive zone. But then something happened, we just kind of let down, and as soon as they got that goal you could see that we had a letdown and just couldn’t close the period.
“During the break we went into the locker room, made some adjustments, more mental than anything. We just told the kids they had to play hard every shift, and in the second and third periods I though we controlled the game.”
The Spartans tied the game up at 14:01 of the second period when Gerald Mikel circled behind the goal and fed the puck back to Richard Mikel in the right circle, where he scored with a high wrist shot.
The Spartans took a 2-1 lead 2:52 into the third period when Nolan Holcombe picked off a pass and fed it ahead to Dushkin, who dove and scored on a one-handed poke.
Another turnover led to Broberg leading a 3-on-1 attack and eventually scoring on a high wrist shot from the right circle.
“T.O. (Taylor Olson) made a great play and caused the turnover, I saw the far side open so I shot it,” Broberg said. “What a way to end your senior season, hopefully this win will give us a lot of momentum going into the playoffs. It was a lot of fun.”
Olson scored Superior’s final goal on a power play with 2:55 remaining.
“Holcombe had the puck on the side boards, he dished it to me, I went down low and found Trent out top and he took a slappy,” Taylor Olson said. “I just got the rebound and put it home.”
The goal was a second chance for Olson, who hit the post on a breakaway in the second period.
“I was going glove side all the way,” Olson said. “I took the shot, but it just hit the outside of the right post.
“I could’ve went home with two goals, but it was nice to get at least one and it was a great way to end the season. I think we’re ready for the playoffs, it’s just like last year when we beat Marshall in overtime in the last game. Now we just have to get ready for Thursday.”
Superior begins playoff action at 7 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Somerset-Baldwin/Woodville game, which took place Tuesday night.
Expected to be in goal for the Spartans is Scott Crawford, who picked up the win Saturday with 16 saves.
His biggest save was stopping Judd Peterson, Marshall’s leading scorer, on a breakaway attempt in the first period.
“What a beautiful save,” Kalin said. “We could have easily been down 2-0 after the first period.”
SPARTAN SPIN: The SHS JV also won Saturday, 1-0. Sid Laurvick scored for the Spartans and goaltender Paxton Paine recorded the shutout with 19 saves.
Superior 0 1 3 — 4
Duluth Marshall 1 0 0 — 1
First Period: 1. DM, Darrick Howard (Jordan Shockley, Zach Isaacson), 11:04 (sh).
Second Period: 2. SHS, Richard Mikel (Gerald Mikel, Steven Mikel), 14:01.
Third Period: 3. SHS, Calbeb Dushkin (Nolan Holcombe), 2:52 (sh). 4. SHS, Joel Broberg, 4:13. 5. SHS, Taylor Olson (Trent Olson), 14:05 (pp).
Saves: Scott Crawford, SHS 7-5-4—16. Brian Anderson, DM 7-5-4—16.