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Spartans fall to Verona at state tournament

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The season came to an end for the Superior High School boys hockey team with a 3-0 loss to the Verona Wildcats in a WIAA State Tournament quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Verona improves to 24-2-2 with the win and will Green Bay Notre Dame in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday. GBND advanced with a 7-0 win over Eau Claire Memorial. The Wildcats defeated Notre Dame in last year’s semifinals.

The Spartans’ season ends with a record of 14-13-1.

Trailing 3-0, Superior did its best to get back into the game by putting the first 10 shots on goal in the third period. The Wildcats’ two shots didn’t come until they went on a power play with 2:01 remaining.

Sophomore Alex Jones picked up his third shutout of the season with 24 saves for Verona.

Senior Paxton Paine finished with 12 saves for Superior.

The Spartans had one of the first chances to score in the game when freshman defenseman Branden LaPorte hit a post midway through the first period.

But seconds later the Spartans were called for cross checking and less than a minute after that Verona took a 1-0 lead when Philippe Fromberger’s low shot from the point got past a screened Paine. Charlie Parker and Brogen Baker assisted on the power-play goal with 6:17 left in the first period.

Superior’s best scoring chances in the opening period came in the final 35 seconds, but Jones came up with glove saves on shots by Aaron Miller and Tyler Nystrom and then turned away a wrist shot by Daniel Mikel.

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead 53 seconds into the second period when Parker broke in from the left boards, faked a shot on Paine and slipped in the puck in behind him for his team-leading 36th goal.

It went to 3-0 at 11:00 when Baker got behind the Spartans’ defense and put the puck in off Paine’s pads for his 21st goal of the season.

With four seconds remaining in the second period Parker was called for checking from behind, which included a 10-minute misconduct penalty.

With Parker and his 36 goals in the penalty box, Superior began the third period on a power play, but it was the Wildcats that had the best scoring chance when Baker snuck behind the Spartan defense for a breakaway attempt, but shot the puck wide.

With 2:01 remaining, Superior was forced to play the rest of the game shorthanded when thanks to a holding penalty.

Superior outshot Verona 10-2 in a scoreless third period.

SPARTANS SPIN: Superior is now 1-2 all-time against Verona. … Daniel Burger returned to the line-up and played in his first game of the postseason after suffering a broken collarbone late in the season. … Verona won the Big 8 Conference championship. … The Wildcats defeated Notre Dame in last year’s state semifinals but then lost to Eau Claire Memorial in the championship game. … ECM’s Jake Bresser was named the WHCA Player of the Year; Matt Borneman of Antigo was named the coach of the year, and Dan Bauer of the Central Wisconsin Storm was given the George Baumann — Friends of Hockey Award. … Superior’s Miller is a finalist for the Joe Pavelski Award (boys forward). The winner will be announced on Saturday.

Verona...................................... 1          2           0          —  0

Superior.................................... 0          0           0          —  0

First Period: 1. V, Philippe Fromberger 7 (Brogan Baker 28, Charlie Parker 20), 10:43 (pp).

Penalties: Grant Hanson, SHS (cross checking), 9:50.

Second Period: 2. V, Parker 36 (Fromberger 30), 0:53. 3. V, Baker 21 (Pat Stevens 21), 11:00.

Penalties: Pat Stevens, V (interference), 1:47. Beau Reder, SHS (slashing), 4:38. Parker, V (checking from behind), 16:55. Parker, V (10-minute misconduct), 16:55.

Third Period: No scoring.

Penalties: Jesse Polson, SHS (holding), 14:59.

Saves: Alex Jones, Verona, 8-6-10—24. Paxton Paine, SHS 6-4-2—12