Spartans cool off the Icemen
The Superior High School boys hockey team opened the WIAA playoffs with an 8-0 win over the Northwest Icemen Thursday night at Wessman Arena.
The Spartans host New Richmond (17-7) at 7 tonight. The Tigers advanced with Friday’s 2-0 win over River Falls.
Freshman Alex Hanson had a game to remember for the Spartans.
After recording his first two varsity points with a pair of second-period goals, Hanson was briefly knocked out of the game when he was checked early in the third period.
“I’m not sure what happened there, I lost my mouth guard and hurt my shoulder, but it’s better now,” Hanson said. “This was about my fifth varsity game. I’m a fourth-line guy, but we’ve had a bunch of guys hurt, so I’ve been playing more. This is really fun and something I’ll definitely remember the rest of my life.”
The Spartans also got two goals and two assists from Taylor Burger; a goal and three assists from Tyler Nelson; a goal and assist from Max Plunkett; and goals from Cayden Laurvick and Tanner Sterling.
The Spartans also got three assists from Trevor Dalbec, two assists from Grant Sorensen and one assist apiece from Luke Drougas, Brock Gilbertson and Derrick Mattson.
Hanson’s first shift came early in the second period when he took over for Max Curtis, who was having helmet problems.
Hanson almost scored on that shift when his shot got through the pads of New Richmond goaltender Scott Lindenberger but was stopped just short of the goal line.
“A bunch of the guys were telling me it went in, but I don’t think it did,” Hanson said.
Hanson went on to score on his next shift, and that didn’t surprise SHS coach Jason Kalin.
“Alex didn’t come out of nowhere,” Kalin said. “He’s been all around, playing defense for the JV, then we needed to put him up at wing and he’s done really well. He’s a very smart hockey player, moves the puck well and makes smart decisions.”
Superior goaltender Caden Welch picked up the shutout with seven saves. Scott Lindenberger had 27 saves for the Icemen.
Superior outshot Spooner 12-2 in the opening period and took a 1-0 lead on Laurvick’s sixth goal of the year. Plunkett set up the scoring play with a behind-the-net pass that Laurvick one-timed past Lindenberger.
Superior took a 2-0 lead at 4:48 of the second period on Hanson’s first goal, which was assisted by Dalbec and Drougas.
“I just got on the ice,” Hanson said. “Dalbec got the puck to me, I took a shot and somehow it went in.”
The Spartans blew the game open with three goals within a span of 1:19.
Nelson’s behind-the-net pass set up Sterling’s one-timer; Hanson’s second goal came 20 seconds later; and Plunkett made it a 5-0 game 59 seconds after that.
“It was a 2-on-1 with Brock (Gilbertson) and the puck ended up right on my tape,” Hanson said of his second goal. “I eventually had the whole net to shoot at.”
Nelson’s seventh goal of the season sent the game into running time with 2:27 left in the second period.
“We didn’t take advantage (of our scoring chances) in the first period,” Kalin said. “We put a lot of pucks on them, but we just couldn’t score. They did a nice job of clogging up the middle.
“We got a spark from our third and fourth lines in the second period. They were skating hard and putting pucks on net. After the second goal it was all downhill have that — the boys had fun.”
Burger’s goals in the third period were nearly identical one-timers after back-door passes from Nelson and Dalbec. His first goal came at 5:09 and the second completed the scoring with 7:15 remaining.
SPARTAN SPIN: The Icemen roster includes players from Spooner, Cumberland, Barron and Chetek-Weyerhaeuser. … Mattson’s assist was also his first varsity point. … The Spartans played without T.J. LaFlamme, Blake Hanson, Kaleb Ullan and Tucker Stamper because of injury or illness. LaFlamme, Hanson and Stamper are expected to practice before Tuesday’s game.
Versus New Richmond
Superior defeated New Richmond 5-3, with an empty-net goal, on Jan. 31 at home.
The Spartans held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 only to see the Tigers rally twice and tie the game.
Superior took the lead for good on Tucker Stamper’s goal with 1:57 remaining, then sealed the victory with Tyler Nelson’s empty-net goal with 50 seconds left.
“We expect another tough game,” Kalin said. “We have to take care of our special teams, our power play has been struggling a bit. The hard part is that we’ve been spotting guys in with so many injuries, so we haven’t had a whole lot of consistency.”
The Spartans were 0-for-3 with the extra skater on Thursday before Nelson scored during a 5-on-3 advantage.
“We just have to make sure we’re taking care of the puck when getting possession, maintaining possession, moving the puck around and getting shots on goal,” Kalin said.
Tonight’s winner will play either Hudson or Somerset in Saturday’s sectional championship.
“We’re really looking forward to playing New Richmond,” Kalin said. “The talk in our locker room is that we have five more (games remaining). We want to be in the state championship game, and we think we have the team to do it.
“We’ve competed against the top 10 teams in Wisconsin and we’re not getting blown out by anybody. We’re really close and on any given night anybody can win if you put forth the effort.”
Nick Johnson leads the Tigers with 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points. Stuart Pearson is next with 20 goals and 16 assists.
Tonight’s game will be aired live on WNXR 107.3 FM, on the web at www.wnxrfm.com and on the web at ifan.tv.
Northwest Icemen................. 0..... 0 0 — 0
Superior.............................. 1..... 5 2 — 8
First Period — 1. Cayden Laurvick (Max Plunkett, Grant Sorensen), 9:56.
Second Period — 2. Alex Hanson 1 (Trevor Dalbec 9, Luke Drougas 11), 4:48. 3. Tanner Sterling 2 (Tyler Nelson 22, Taylor Burger 14), 10:21. 4. Hanson 2 (Brock Gilbertson 2), 10:41. 5. Plunkett 12 (Sorensen 8, Derrick Mattson 1), 11:40. 6. Nelson 7 (Burger 15), 14:33.
Third Period — 7, Burger 12 (Nelson 23, Dalbec 10), 5:09 (5-on-3). 8. Burger 13 (Dalbec 11, Nelson 24), 9:45.
Saves — Scott Lindenberger, NW, 11-8-8—27. Caden Welch, SHS, 2-4-1—7.