Superior well represented at last week’s Minnesota state hockey tournament
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The city of Superior was well represented at last week’s Minnesota Boys State Hockey tournament, which took place at the Xcel Center in St. Paul.
The Superior High School boys hockey team wasn’t in action, but a number of former Spartans’ sons were.
The player that made most noise was John Wiitala, who scored the go-ahead goal 1:34 into the third period of Lakeview South’s 3-2 upset win over the Duluth East Greyhounds in a quarterfinal game on Thursday night. East entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the state with a 27-1 record.
Wiitala, the son of former Superiorites’ Marty and Jeanne (Munsell) Wiitala, snuck behind the defense after a teammate stole the puck off the sideboards in East’s zone and beat goaltender Dylan Parker for his ninth goal of the season and a 2-1 advantage.
Marty Wiitala led the Spartans to Wisconsin state championships in 1981 and 82. He then played for the Wisconsin Badgers, where he was a four-year letter winner and a member of the 1983 NCAA Division 1 national championship team. During the 1985-86 season he was team captain and MVP, all WCHA second team and an all WCHA all-academic team selection. He was also a member of the USA World Junior team in 1984 that played in the World Junior Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.
The elder Wiitala was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the fifth round in 1982. He played two seasons in the Austrian Elite league and was a member of the USA National team that participated in the Pravda Cup in St. Petersburg Russia in 1987.
Lakeville South (21-8) went on to lose to Benilde-St. Margaret’s 10-1 in the semifinals, then defeated Moorhead 2-1 in the third-place game.
For the season John Wiitala, a junior, had nine goals and 18 assists from 27 points.
Joining Wiitala in the state tournament was his cousin, Derek Wiitala, a sophomore defenseman for Breck.
Derek, the son of Wade and Debbie Wiitala, finished the season with one goal and eight assists from nine points.
Wade graduated from SSHS in 1985 and Debbie graduated from Northwood High School in Minong.
Also playing in the state tournament with ties to Superior were Nate Kotter for Duluth East and Ryan Gotelaere for Duluth Marshall. Both were senior defensemen for their respective teams.
Kotter, who had five assists this season, is the son of R.J. and Wendy (Harju) Kotter. R.J. was a teammate of Marty Wiitala’s on the state championship teams.
Gotelaere, who finished with three goals and 23 assists for 26 points, is the son of Mike and Marcie (Anderson), who live in Lake Nebagamon. After graduation from SSHS in 1978, Mike went on to play for the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets.
One more player that can be included with the above is Owen Stauber, a defenseman for the Hermantown Hawks, who lost to St. Thomas Academy in the Class A championship game. Owen Stauber (3-11-14) is the son of Dan Stauber, head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Superior men’s hockey team.
If that wasn’t enough of a Superior-flavor to the tournament how about former Superior Spartan coach Tom Saterdalen providing the color commentary on the radio. Saterdalen coached the Spartans for four seasons from 1966-70.