Spartans open playoffs on 2-game skidDULUTH -- Travis Samuelson’s goal with 1:10 remaining gave the Duluth Denfeld Hunters 5-4 victory over the Superior High School boys hockey team Friday night at the Heritage Center.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
DULUTH — Travis Samuelson’s goal with 1:10 remaining gave the Duluth Denfeld Hunters a 5-4 victory over the Superior High School boys hockey team Friday night at the Heritage Center.
The Spartans, who were playing their third game in four days, led 2-1 after the first period and 3-1 after the second before being outshot 24-4 and outscored 4-1 in the third period.
“We just got beat in the third period for the second straight night,” SHS coach Jason Kalin said. “We didn’t have any gas left in the tank, that’s why we gave up 24 shots in the third period.”
Earlier in the week, Superior defeated Virginia on Tuesday and lost to Hermantown 5-2 on Thursday.
“It’s not that these guys didn’t try, I know they played last night and they’re tired, but we have to find a little something deep down inside and we didn’t have that tonight,” Kalin said. “The bottom line is that we have to grind it out and play from the heart.”
Paxton Paine finished with 35 saves in goal for the Spartans and Zach Thompson had 16 saves for the Hunters.
Aaron Miller scored three of Superior’s goals and Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate scored the other.
Nick Thompson and Levi Talarico scored for the Hunters before Samuelson’s game-winner.
The Spartans wrap up the regular season with records of 15-8-1 overall and 2-4 in the Lake Superior Conference. Denfeld improves to 16-7 overall and 3-2 in the LSC.
After a couple days of well-deserved rest, Superior returns to practice Monday to get ready for the WIAA playoffs, which begin tonight around Wisconsin.
“We have to bounce back,” said SHS senior captain Trent Olson. “Hopefully these two losses will add a little fuel to the fire and we’ll start to roll in the playoffs.
“We need to work a little harder and push ourselves. It’s a new season and we need to start preparing for Thursday.”
The Spartans, the No. 1 seed, received a first-round bye and will host the winner of the Tuesday’s Barron-River Falls game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wessman Arena.
“We have one of the toughest sections in the state, so we’re going to have to be prepared,” Kalin said. “River Falls may have a low seed this year, but they only had one line a few years ago and took us to five overtimes, so that’s what I’m talking about, gutting it out.
“Going into the playoffs we just can’t rely on scoring from one line, we’re going to need solid play out of all of our lines. We’re young and hopefully the last couple of games were a huge learning experience for us. They’re going to have to do it.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Miller leads the Spartans in scoring with 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points. With 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists) he is also No. 12 on the Spartan all-time scoring list, two points behind Sean Graskey, who had 47 goals and 39 assists for 86 points from 2004-07.
Duluth Denfeld 1-0-4—5
First Period: 1. SHS, Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate 14 (Tyler Nystrom 16, Grant Hanson 5), 5:34. 2. DD, Nick Thompson (Ried Lemker), 6:16. 3. SHS, Aaron Miller 27, 7:24.
Second Period: 4. SHS, Miller 27 (Wakefield-Zubiate 30, Jesse Polson 10), 10:38.
Third Period: 5. DD, Thompson (Alex Cowan), 2:56. 6. DD, Levi Talarico (Patrick Potswald), 4:52. 7. DD, Talarico (Matthew Mattila, Travis Samuelson), 8:35. 8. SHS, Miller 29, 9:33 (pp). 9. DD, Samuelson (Thompson), 15:50.
Saves: Paxton Paine, SHS 7-8-20—35. Zach Thompson, DD 5-8-3—16.