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Spartans skate into win column

The Superior High School boys hockey team got into the win column for the first time this season with a 7-3 win over the Rice Lake Warriors Tuesday night at Wessman Arena.

The Spartans, who entered Tuesday’s game with an 0-3 record, got three goals from Tyler Nystrom, a goal and four assists from Aaron Miller and a goal and two assists from Daniel Mikel.

The last time the Spartans opened a season with three straight losses was when they started the 2005-06 season with six straight losses. Superior went 13-11 that season, which ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to Fond du Lac in the state tournament semifinal game.

“It’s nice to finally get that first win,” Mikel said. “It was a tough start, hopefully this is a big confidence booster and all the younger kids are getting adjusted to playing at the varsity level.”

Two players whose confidence level rose a bit are junior Mark Shold and freshman Braden LaPorte, who both scored their first varsity goals against Rice Lake.

“LaPorte’s goal was a big slap shot,” SHS coach Jason Kalin said. “Braden has real good vision of the ice and makes good decisions. As for Mark, when he finds an opportunity to find the back of the net he puts it home. Both are going to be very good hockey players for us.”

Kalin was also pleased with the play of sophomore Dylan Skorich, who stepped up from the junior varsity.

 “He played a heck of a game for us,” Kalin said. “We were talking about him in between every period and he even started the third period for us. At one point the puck was inside our zone by about 10 feet and he drove the whole pile out of the zone. He only weighs like 130 pounds so it was great to have a guy come in there with a lot of heart like that. Nothing fazes him.”

Paxton Paine picked up the win with nine saves.

Six of the game’s 10 goals were scored by special teams. Superior got a shorthanded goal from Miller, Nystrom scored two power-play goals and LaPorte’s goal came while the Spartans were skating with a 5-on-3 advantage.

Superior led 2-0 after one period and 6-1 after two periods before Rice Lake made things a bit interesting with two power-play goals by Jordan Fader 36 seconds apart early in the third period.

The Spartans rebounded when Nystrom completed his hat trick with 11:12 remaining. All three of Nystrom’s goals were assisted by Miller.

Superior High School’s Tyler Nystrom (11) splits the Rice Lake defense during the Spartans’ 7-3 win Tuesday night. (Jed Carlson)“He’s a playmaker and gets it done,” Nystrom said. “I love playing with him.”

Freshman Hunter Holmes had 36 saves for Rice Lake, which also got a goal from Ryan Schmidt.

Miller gave Superior a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal 2:02 into the game.

Miller then set up Superior’s second goal when he circled behind the net and fed Mikel, who just left the bench and was charging into the offensive zone. Mikel’s second goal of the year went over Holmes’ glove.

“I had a good vision of the ice around the net was trying to get into position,” Mikel said. “Miller set me up with a nice back-door pass and I was able to put it home.”

Nystrom’s first goal of the game was a slap shot from the left circle 3:48 into the second period.

Rice Lake got on the scoreboard on Ryan Schmidt goal five minutes later.

Superior got that goal back, as well as two others, to end the second period with a 6-1 lead.

LaPorte scored from the slot at 10:20 and Shold scored three minutes later when he put home the rebound after a shot by Mikel.

Shold’s scoring play started when Beau Reder won a defensive faceoff to Mitch Anderson. The sophomore defenseman then threw a long pass off the right boards to Mikel, who broke in alone, but had his shot stopped by Holmes. Shold followed up the play and put home the rebound.

“That’s a set play, we just try to get up ice as fast as we can,” Mikel said. “I didn’t have a clean shot, so it was nice to see Mark following up and putting home the rebound for his first goal.”

Nystrom made it a 6-1 game with 1:34 left in the second period.

“We started well, full of energy,” Kalin said. “We had to rebound from a tough start to the season and put together a good effort. We got a lot of great efforts from a lot of guys.”

Superior (1-3) played at Chippewa Falls Thursday night and hosts Menomonie at 2 p.m. Saturday.

SPARTAN SPIN: Superior’s Daniel Burger is expected to miss between four to six weeks with a broken thumb. … Miller left Tuesday’s game for a short time in the second period with a hand injury after getting slashed. … With his five-point night, Miller unofficially moves into a tie for No. 9 on Superior’s all-time scoring list with Nolan Holcombe with 113 points. Miller currently has 51 goals and 62 assists while Holcombe had 52 goals and 61 assists from 2009-12. … Superior is 35-3 all-time vs. Rice Lake.

Rice Lake        0              1              2              —           3

Superior           2              4              1              —           7

First Period: 1. SHS, Aaron Miller 2, 2:02 (sh). 2. SHS, Daniel Mikel 2 (Miller 3), 7:35.

Second Period: 3. SHS, Tyler Nystrom 2 (Miller 4), 3:48 (pp). 4. RL, Ryan Schmidt (Jordan Fader, Tyler Hoff), 8:30. 5. SHS, Braden LaPorte 1 (Mark Shold 1, Beau Reder 1), 10:20 (5-on-3). 6. SHS, Shold 1 (Mikel 2, Mitch Anderson 1), 13:51. 7. SHS, Nystrom 3 (Miller 5), 15:26.

Third Period: 8. RL, Fader (Hoff), 3:43 (pp). 9. RL, Fader (Chase Mickelson, Schmidt), 4:19 (pp). 10. SHS, Nystrom 4 (Miller 6, Mikel 3), 5:48 (pp).

Saves: Hunter Holmes, RL 13-13-10—36. Paxton Paine, SHS 3-2-4—9.