Spartans open playoffs with a bangSpartans host Siren at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
One year removed from failing to advance to the WIAA state hockey tournament for the first time since 2001, the Superior High School boys hockey team sent word that it’s hungry for a return trip to Madison as the Spartans opened the WIAA playoffs with a rousing 12-1 win over the River Falls Wildcats Tuesday night at Wessman Arena.
The Spartans got three goals and an assist from Daniel Litchke, two goals from Caleb Duskin, a goal and four assists from Nolan Holcombe and three assists from Brett Bukowski.
Aaron Miller also scored his ninth goal and Trent Olson his fourth.
The remaining goals were memorable ones as Aaron Johnson scored his first goal of the season and Blake Johnson, Jack Bergum and Daniel Burger scored the first goals of their varsity careers.
Unlike their meeting just 12 days earlier, when the Spartans only led 1-0 after the first period of a 9-0 win over the Wildcats, Superior jumped all over River Falls this time around with a five-goal opening period.
Daniel Litchke and Caleb Duskin scored 20 seconds apart four minutes into the game.
Blake Johnson’s first goal of the season on a shot from the right point gave Superior a 3-0 lead at 9:13, but River Falls answered 11 seconds later when Casey Jerry scored unassisted.
Litchke’s second goal came on a power play at 13:44 and Holcombe finished the scoring in the first period when he won a face-off and scored unassisted.
Litchke completed his hat trick 1:01 into the second period and defenseman Aaron Johnson put the game into running time 1:05 later when he scored his first goal of the season on a blast from the blue line.
Aaron Johnson’s goal also led to River Falls replacing starting goaltender Corbin Renslow with Logan Ottarson.
The Spartans didn’t treat Ottarson any different as Aaron Miller put the puck over his glove at 7:01 and Dushkin tipped a Brett Bukowski shot past him two minutes later.
The game went to 10-1 on Trent Olson’s fourth goal of the season with 3:46 left in the second period.
Bergum’s and Burger’s goal came in the third period.
Scott Crawford picked up the win in goal for Superior with 13 saves. Renslow and Ottarson combined to make 36 saves for River Falls.
The Spartans will be back in action at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they host Siren a regional final game at Wessman Arena. Siren defeated Menomonie 8-5.
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior also defeated River Falls 9-0 on Feb. 4. … Wildcat captain Connor Maxwell, a sophomore defenseman, was in the lineup after missing the previous game with Superior because of an injury.
River Falls 1 0 0 — 1
Superior 5 5 2 — 12
First Period: 1. SHS, Daniel Litchke 21 (Nolan Holcombe 24, Brett Bukowski 13), 4:34. 2. SHS, Caleb Dushkin 11 (Litchke 21, Trent Olson 8), 4:54. 3. SHS, Blake Johnson 1 (Aaron Miller 5, Dane Sislo 6), 9:13. 4. RF, Casey Jerry, 9:24. 5. SHS, Litchke 22 (Holcombe 25, Brady Uotinen 10), 13:44 (pp). 6. SHS, Holcombe 18, 15:05.
Second Period: 7. SHS, Litchke 23 (Holcombe 26, Olson 9), 1:01. 8. SHS, Aaron Johnson 1 (Steven Mikel 12, Daniel Mikel 7), 2:06. 9. SHS, Aaron Miller 9 (Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate 12, Tyler Nystrom 4), 7:01. 10. SHS, Dushkin 12 (Bukowski 14, Holcombe 27), 9:07 (pp). 11. SHS, Olson 4 (Bukowski 15, Gerald Mikel 12), 13:14.
Third Period: 12. SHS, Jack Bergum 1 (Blake Johnson 2, Daniel Burger 2), (pp). 13. SHS, Burger 1 (Luke Darwin 5, Johnson 9), 16:38.
Saves: Corbin Renslow, RF 21-0-x—21. Logan Ottarson, RF x-4-11—15. Scott Crawford, SHS 5-2-6—13.