Spartan hockey team one stride from state tournament berthSuperior plays Hudson in section championship game at 7 p.m. Friday in Menomonie
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School boys hockey team moved one step closer to a WIAA State Tournament berth with a 4-1 win over the New Richmond Tigers Tuesday night at Wessman Arena.
Standing in the way of the Spartans’ 35th trip to state are the Hudson Raiders, who upset No. 2 Somerset 3-0 Tuesday night.
The sectional championship game is at 7 p.m. today at the Dunn County Arena in Menomonie.
“We had a good performance out of all three lines,” SHS coach Jason Kalin said. “Things got sloppy at times, but that was the kind of game New Richmond wanted to put up against us. They tried to get us to turn the puck over, and it was tough breaking the puck out at first. Now we just have to focus on taking care of the puck, getting pucks deep and hopefully we’ll be good to go on Friday.
“Right now we’re just all-in-all happy with a good victory.”
Daniel Burger’s first goal of the season gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead 5:10 into the first period. After taking a pass from Dane Sislo, Burger made a move around a New Richmond defender in the slot, had his initial shot stopped by Tiger goaltender Aaron Chwialkowski but then poked home his own rebound.
“It feels great to finally get it; I’m happy about that, but more happy with the team winning,” Burger said. “I just came around, Dane made a nice pass out of the corner and I was lucky enough to put it in.”
Credited with his first assist of the season on Burger’s goal was Mitch Anderson, along with Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate.
“Coach (Rob) Downs is going to take a little credit for Burger’s goal because he rubbed his hockey stick (before the game),” Kalin said. “Danny deserves it. He’s a hard worker, did a lot of work in the offseason and got himself a little stronger and a little bit bigger. He’s doing a good job for us.”
New Richmond tied it up when Tyler Langerstrom skated out from behind the net and back-handed a loose puck past Spartan goaltender Paxton Paine. The power-play goal came during a SHS too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
Superior took a 2-1 lead with its own power-play goal when Trent Olson took passes from Daniel Mikel and Grant Hanson and scored on a slap shot from the top of the left circle.
“The boys rebounded, got after it and got that power-play goal back,” Kalin said. “The guys were fired up, especially when the net was off on the left side when they scored. That’s why they had to replace the peg. That added a little more fuel to the fire.”
It went to 3-1 when Miller deked a Tiger player and put a shot on net. Chwialkowski made the save, but Miller put home his own rebound with 3:55 left in the second period. Tyler Nystrom and Olson assisted on Miller’s team-leading 32nd goal of the year.
“I do that move in practice a ton,” Miller said. “I wanted to go low because it gives you a chance for another opportunity if there’s a rebound. I remember doing it a couple of games ago and it worked well at Virginia, so this time I decided to shoot for a rebound and it just came back to me and I put it back home.”
Superior’s penalty kill took over early in the third period and successfully killed off back-to-back penalties.
“Our kills have been good all year,” Kalin said. “The boys just make good, sacrificial plays. You saw Jesse Polson in the last minute make a really nice blocked shot. Those are the type of things we have to do.
“We feel we can play a number of different types of kills, we work on a bunch of different ones and the boys are comfortable.”
New Richmond eventually used its timeout with 2:28 remaining and pulled its goalie with 1:19 remaining. But a faceoff in neutral ice forced Chwialkowski back on the ice with 44.4 seconds left.
Goalie or not, Superior made it a 4-1 game when Nystrom’s blast from in front of New Richmond’s bench was mishandled by Chwialkowski and Miller was there to slap home the rebound with 37.2 seconds left.
“It was a big shot by Nystrom,” Miller said. “What a head’s up play. He was just trying to get it down deep, I went hard to the net and the puck was right there for me.”
Paine finished with 20 saves, with half of them coming in the third period.
“It got tough, but we got great play from our defense and that helped keep the puck out,” Paine said. “The guys did a great job of clearing things out front so I had pretty good vision of what was going on.”
Chwialkowski had 34 saves, including 14 in the second period and 12 in the third.
“We can enjoy this win for now, but then come ready to practice and get ready for Hudson,” Paine said.
The Spartans defeated the Raiders 5-4 on Dec. 1 in Superior.
“We had them 5-2 early on and they got two late goals for a 5-4 game,” Kalin said. “That game was at home, so it’s going to be a whole different scenario playing in Menomonie. But we have a couple of days to prepare for it and I’m looking forward to a Friday game in Menomonie.
“I think the guys are pretty jacked for it. We have one goal in mind and that’s getting back to state and winning the state championship.”
Miller had a big game for Superior against Hudson with three goals and assists on Nystrom’s two goals.
“We have to play like we did Tuesday, stay physical, stay healthy and just keep working at it,” Miller said.
The Spartans have been battling the bug all week, including senior captain Dane Sislo, who threw up in between periods of the New Richmond game.
Not only are the Spartans going to need to be healthy, but they are also going to need to continue to get scoring from more than the first line.
The No. 1 line of Miller, Nystrom and Daniel Mikel has 65 of Superior’s 95 goals.
The second line of Wakefield-Zubiate, Burger and Sislo has 18 goals, and Wakefield-Zubiate scored 14 of them when he was on the line with Miller and Nystrom.
“There’s a little pressure on us to help out on scoring,” Burger said. “We know we’re going to have to pick up our games and take some of the pressure off the top line if we want to continue winning.”
Josh Mattis. Mattis (12-3, 2.11 goals-against average, .908 save percentage) and Mac Alboreo (8-2, 2.38, .894) have shared time in net for Hudson, which is seeking its first state tournament berth since winning the 2004 title.
Daniel Trippichio (16 goals, 25 assists, 41 points) and Michael Hommes (15-17-32) are the Raiders' leading scorers.
SPARTAN SPIN: The ninth-ranked Raiders are a quick-starting team, outscoring opponents 39-12 in the first period and 110-51 overall. … The Spartans have won 10 of the last 11 section titles, losing only to New Richmond in 2011. … Miller (33-34-67), Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate (14-33-47) and Tyler Nystrom (22-19-41) pace the team in scoring, while Paine and Zach Reiswig have alternated much of the season in goal. Superior has defeated Hudson eight straight times since a February 2007 defeat.
New Richmond 0-1-0—1
First Period: 1. SHS, Daniel Burger 1 (Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate 32, Mitch Anderson 1), 5:10.
Second Period: 2. NR, Tyler Lagerstrom (Josh Manske, Michael Bodsberg), 3:03 (pp). 3. SHS, Trent Olson 5 (Grant Hanson 7), 8:25 (pp). 4. SHS, Aaron Miller 32 (Tyler Nystrom 18, Olson 9), 13:05.
Third Period: 5. SHS, Miller 33 (Nystrom 19), 16:23.
Penalties: Miller, SHS (hooking), 6:43. Olson, SHS (slashing), 7:11. Manske, NR (slashing), 7:11. Hanson, SHS (holding), 8:54.
Saves: Aaron Chwialkowski, NR 8-14-12—34. Paxton Paine, SHS 6-4-10—20. Att: 1,000.