Spartans win playoff opener
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 will now host the winner of Friday night’s New Richmond-River Falls game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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 with 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.
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.