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Stamper’s game-winner sends Spartans past Tigers

The Superior High School boys hockey team celebrated Senior Night with a 5-3 win over the New Richmond Tigers Tuesday night at Wessman Arena.

The Spartans improve to 10-8-2 on the season with the victory and all but guarantee themselves the No. 2 seed (behind Hudson) for the upcoming WIAA playoffs.

“That was a good win for us because New Richmond played us tough, they always do, and it should lock up the second seed for us,” SHS coach Jason Kalin said. “Besides losing (and tying) to Hudson, we haven’t lost to anybody else (in our section), and New Richmond beat Somerset and Baldwin-Woodville. So this win should put us in a good spot.”

The Spartans found themselves in a good spot Tuesday night with a 2-0 lead after Tyler Nelson’s first-period goal and Max Plunkett’s goal 5:16 into the second period.

But New Richmond tied things up with second-period power-play goals from Nick Johnson and Dylan Marty.

Braden LaPorte gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead with his own power-play goal 4:21 into the third period, but New Richmond tied the game again when Stuart Pearson scored with 2:52 remaining.

That set the scene for junior Tucker Stamper, who put home a rebound for the game-winning goal with 1:57 remaining.

“I just put the puck in the net, that’s about it,” said a modest Stamper. “Grant Sorensen was digging for it and the goalie was laying there and missed it. The puck was just lying there, I poked it past the goalie and it went in.”

Sophomore Tyler Nelson sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 40 seconds on the clock.

Nelson’s first goal of the game, his fourth of the season, gave Superior a 1-0 lead 8:20 into the first period.

With assists from Trevor Dalbec and TJ LaFlamme, Nelson’s initial shot was stopped, but he picked up the rebound just outside the crease and slipped a back-hander past New Richmond goaltender Jake Erickson.

Superior took a 2-0 lead when Plunkett’s shot from the left circle was stopped, but he picked up the rebound and snapped the puck over Erickson. Grant Sorensen and Luke Drougas assisted on Plunkett’s team-leading 11th goal.

Five minutes later New Richmond was awarded a penalty shot and a 5-minute power play when Marty was slashed by Max Curtis on a breakaway attempt.

Welch made a pad save on Marty’s penalty shot, but he wasn’t as fortunate during the power play as a hit pipe and several shots led to a mad scramble in front of the net and Nick Johnson eventually getting credit with his 24th goal to make it a 2-1 game.

“He came out wide (on the penalty shot), I just held my ground, he put a quick one on my pad but I was there,” Welch said. “On the goal, I was down, he pulled it back and had the whole net (to shoot at). I still had a chance, but it hit the end of my stick and went in.”

The Tigers tied the game 2-2 on Marty’s power-play goal with 54.1 seconds left in the second period.

“We faced a little bit of adversity there with the five-minute major and the penalty shot, but Welchie did a nice job on the stop,” Kalin said. “I thought the boys bounced back well. We regrouped in the locker room and everybody supported each other.”

Leading the rally was LaPorte, the Spartans’ senior captain, whose slap shot from the blue line got past a screened Erickson for a 3-2 Spartan lead.

“We’ve been working on that for a long time, just getting a screen in front, shooting and trying to hit some net,” LaPorte said. “It worked perfectly for us tonight.”

Adding to the memory of the night was having his nine-year-old brother Cameron join the Spartans during pregame introductions as the Player of the Game.

“It couldn’t have been a better night,” LaPorte said. “Scoring is great, but beating New Richmond was more important. They’re a tough opponent, they always play us hard and we came out with the win. They beat us last year, so this is a big improvement.

“It was also special having my brother on the ice with us. He’s been wanting to be the Player of the Game for a while and he finally got the opportunity. Having him out there with the team made it ever better.”

Also enjoying a night to remember was senior Andrew Parkinson, who scored the game-tying goal in the JV game on a slap shot from the red line with 4.1 seconds remaining.

Other seniors honored during the first and second periods were LaFlamme, Brock Gilbertson, Tanner Sterling and Brendan Crayne, as well as managers Alexis Johnson and Jordyn Olson.

Welch finished with 26 saves and Erickson had 28 saves for New Richmond (12-7).

Superior, which lost 8-1 Thursday night at Duluth East, plays is at Greenway at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Spartans then host Hermantown Tuesday and wrap up the regular season Feb. 11 at Eau Claire Memorial.

SPARTAN SPIN: The JV game ended in a 3-3 tie. Besides Parkinson’s goal, Tanner Paine also scored his first goal of the season and James Bronson’s goal brought Superior within 3-2 with 2:38 remaining. Dayton Podvin finished with 27 saves. … The 21st annual Spartan Hockey pancake breakfast is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in the SHS cafeteria. The cost is $5 with ages three-and-under free. Youth hockey players wearing their SAHA jerseys will get $1 off. Take outs are available and there will be a bake sale.

New Richmond................ 0       2      1     —     3

Superior......................... 1       1      3     —     5

First Period — 1. SHS, Tyler Nelson 4 (Trevor Dalbec 6, TJ LaFlamme 4), 8:20.

Penalties — Dylan Marty, NR (tripping), 2:04.

Second Period — 2. SHS, Max Plunkett 11 (Grant Sorensen 4, Luke Drougas 8), 5:16. 3. Nick Johnson 24, 9:37 (pp). 4. NR, Dylan Marty 9 (Dane Swada 10, Mika Kier 7), 16:06 (pp).

Penalties – Max  Curtis, SHS (slash,  major), 6:29. Cayden Laurvick, SHS (hooking), 14:26.

Third Period — 5. SHS, Braden LaPorte 4 (Nelson 18, LaFlamme 5), 4:21 (pp). 6. NR, Stuart Pearson 16 (Johnson 12), 14:08. 7. SHS, Tucker Stamper 6 (Plunkett 10, Sorensen 5), 15:03. 8. SHS, Nelson 5, 16:20 (en).

Penalties — Mika Kier, NR (interference), 3:16. Laurvick, SHS (cross check), 6:26. Blake Kretovics, NR (slashing), 9:32. Noah Towberman, NR (high sticking), 9:32. Luke Drougas, SHS (high sticking), 9:32.

Saves — Jake Erickson, NR, 10-10-8—28. Caden Welch, SHS, 7-11-8—26.