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Spartans pull off rare win over Hibbing

Superior High School's Braden LaPorte moves up ice with the puck during a game earlier this season at Wessman Arena. (Jed Carlson /

HIBBING — Braden LaPorte’s power-play goal with 1:20 remaining gave the Superior High School boys hockey team a rare 4-3 win over Hibbing-Chisholm Tuesday night at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.

The win over Hibbing was just the second ever for the Spartans, who trail the all-time series with the Blue Jackets 16-2.

Superior’s last win over Hibbing came during head coach Jason Kalin’s junior season (1990-91).

“I got hit so hard that I don’t even remember the game, but I think we won 4-2,” Kalin said.

He was close, the Spartans won 4-3.

Prior to last year’s 10-2 Hibbing win at Wessman Arena, the last time the two teams met was during the 1992-93 season.

One of the biggest games in the series came during the 1981-82 season in Hibbing, when both were ranked No. 1 in their respective states.

The Spartans were led by Marty Wiitala, Aaron Gotham, Dennis Will and Ricky Barton, while the Blue Jackets’ roster included Pat Micheletti, Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin and the Hooper twins (Gary and Greg).

Hibbing defeated Superior 7-3 and eventually advanced to the Minnesota state tournament, defeating Henry Sibley 3-0 and losing to White Bear Lake 4-1 in the semifinals.

Superior went on to win the Wisconsin state championship with a 7-0 win over Madison Memorial.

Tuesday night the Spartans seemed well on their way to snapping the 26-year drought when they scored three second-goal periods for a 3-1 lead.

After Hibbing made it 3-2 on Tristan Birdsall’s power-play goal 9:14 into the third period, Superior went on a 5-minute power play with 5:05 remaining thanks to a checking-from-behind penalty.

But it was Hibbing that tied the game up on Dylan Mattson’s short-handed goal with 2:42 remaining.

With Superior still on the power play, LaPorte gave the lead back to the Spartans for good when his shot from the point got past Hibbing goaltender Paxton Kriske with 1:20 remaining. Taylor Burger and Max Plunkett assisted on LaPorte’s third goal of the year.

“We got into penalty trouble in the third period and gave the momentum back to Hibbing,” Kalin said. “However, the power play regrouped and Braden’s rocket shot went into the upper-left corner for the game winner.”

Hibbing outshot Superior 10-4 in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Zach DeBoom.

The Spartans answered with answered by outshooting Hibbing 13-5 and scoring three goals in the second period.

Luke Drougas tied the game up with help from Tyler Nelson; Tucker Stamper scored with an assist from Drougas; and Plunkett scored on a breakaway after taking a pass from Blake Hanson.

“The first period was about survival, but we came to play in the second,” Kalin said. “It was certainly fun to watch our team rally and play like they can in that second period.

“We’re still young, and putting together a full game has been our crutch all year long, but we are getting much better. The confidence is growing and the chemistry in the locker room is what is holding this team together.”

Caden Welch finished with 22 saves for Superior (9-6-1), which plays at Hudson at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Spartans and Raiders will play against at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Superior Ice Arena.

Kriske had 21 saves for Hibbing-Chisholm (10-5).

Hudson (11-2) is currently ranked No. 2 in Wisconsin.

“Prior to the Hibbing game we talked about how well we need to play to beat some really good teams because that is who we are going to face in the next month,” Kalin said. “We hope to have the formula figured out going into Hudson this weekend.”

SPARTAN SPIN: Tuesday’s JV game ended in a 1-1 tie. … Wiitala (No. 101) and Micheletti (No. 185) were both drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1982. … Wiitala went on to play with the Wisconsin Badgers from 1983-86. The Badgers won a NCAA championship in 1983 and Wiitala was the team captain in the 1985-86 season. … Micheletti went on to become the Minnesota Gophers second all-time leading scorer with 120 goals and 149 assists for 269 points, then played in the NHL from 1986-92.


Superior.................................... 0          3           1          —   4

Hibbing..................................... 1          0           2          —   3

First period — 1. HC, Zach DeBoom (Jarrett Lee, Anthony Kanipes), 5:43.

Second period — 2. SHS, Luke Drougas 2 (Tyler Nelson 17), 2:51; 3. SHS, Tucker Stamper 5 (Drougas 7), 8:33; 4. SHS, Max Plunkett 8 (Blake Hanson 4), 9:50.

Third period — 5. HC, Tristan Birdsall (DeBoom, Kanipes), 9:14 (pp); 6. HC, Dylan Mattson (Jaiman Lamphere), 14:18 (sh); 7. SHS, Braden LaPorte 3 (Taylor Burger 8, Plunket t8), 15:40 (pp).

Saves — Caden Welch, SHS, 9-5-8—22; Paxton Kriske, HC, 4-10-7—21.