PREVIEW: Spartan hockey team opens at ECM tournament

Superior High School boys hockey coach Jason Kalin was looking forward to a season that featured one of the top lines in the state, and arguably one of the most potent in Spartan history, with Aaron Miller, Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate and Tyler Nystrom.

Superior's Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate (6) gets past the New Richmond goalie during a game at Wessman Arena last season. (Jed Carlson/

Superior High School boys hockey coach Jason Kalin was looking forward to a season that featured one of the top lines in the state, and arguably one of the most potent in Spartan history, with Aaron Miller, Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate and Tyler Nystrom.

The three combined to score 169 points last season with 75 goals and 94 assists. Miller led the way with 74 points (36 goals and 38 assists), which was the second best season ever for the Spartans. Wakefield had the 10th best season all-time with 50 points (15-35), and Nystrom was close behind with 45 points (24-21).

Unfortunately, that line was broken up even before the season began as Wakefield-Zubiate suffered a knee injury during the football season and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the hockey season.

"Aaron has a goal to be back for the playoffs, and that's a wonderful goal to have, but I believe right now that's a pretty lofty goal," Kalin said. "What a tough loss. Now we're trying to find lines that will work, and if Aaron was here, that wouldn't even be a question."

One player expected to help fill Wakefield-Zubiate's skates on the top line is sophomore Beau Reder.


"Beau's an exceptional athlete and has a lot to offer," Kalin said. "We're looking for lines that are effective and comfortable with each other. We're also trying to get balance in our lineup, but it will take time, especially without Wakefield.

"It's amazing what missing just one person can do to a lineup," Kalin said. "But being that he's not going to be with us gives us the opportunity to develop younger players and then have three solid lines as the season progresses. On all of my state tournament teams that made it to the state championship game, we had three solid lines. With Aaron, we definitely had three solid lines of experienced hockey players."

One line that is intact includes senior Daniel Mikel and juniors Daniel Burger and Mark Shold. Mikel had 10 goals and three assists last season, Burger had three goals and three assists, and Shold was homeschooled last year and played midget hockey.

"They've shown so much promise, so I don't what to mess with that line right now," Kalin said. "Mark's been a real nice addition. I think he's kind of shocked right now in terms of learning our systems, but he's got a heck of nose for the net and is really good in the offensive zone. He needs some work in the defensive zone, but if you put a puck in front of him he has great vision and awareness."

Other forwards include senior Noah Peterson; juniors Anthony Bronson, Bryan Bergstrom and Kyler Krob; sophomore Preston Michaud; and freshman Caden Tchop.

The Spartans have three returning defensemen with juniors Grant Hanson and Jesse Polson and sophomore Mitch Anderson. The remaining defensemen are junior Dylan Conklin; sophomore Shane Tetzlaff; and freshman Braden LaPorte. Junior Matt Hinaus will see time at both forward and defense.

"We've been rolling five defensemen up until this point and I feel comfortable with all five of them," Kalin said. "Besides the returning players, Tetzlaff and LaPorte have both shown a lot of promise."

Goaltending should be one of Superior's strengths with the return of senior Paxton Paine and back-up junior Peyton Flanders.


"Paxton's our returning starter and has performed very well in practice so far," Kalin said. "Hopefully he continues to develop his confidence, which is the biggest thing for a goaltender. He has Payton backing him up and hopefully he pushes him, which will make both better."

The Spartans are going to need stellar goaltending to compete in the tough Lake Superior Conference, which features Hermantown, ranked No. 1 amongst Minnesota's small schools.

"Hermantown is just a machine right now," Kalin said. "They have to be considered the favorites in the conference, followed by Duluth Marshall, Denfeld and Cloquet.

"I just don't know where everybody's going to end up. It's a toss-up."

The Spartans play both Hermantown and Duluth Denfeld twice this season, while playing Cloquet, Marshall and Proctor just once.

"Our goal is always to win the LSC and that's no different this year," Miller said. "After that we have our sights set on winning state. We made it to the semifinals last year, so hopefully with our experience, along with more confidence, we can take another step to a state championship."

The Spartans' last state championship came in 2005.

"It's been a while and we're ready to get one," Kalin said. "It's going to take dedication and we're going to have to develop more players. Our goal is always to be the best in the state, and we expect to be the best."


The key to winning state is depth. In the past the Spartans could rely on rolling three or four lines against teams in Wisconsin that sometimes featured only one line.

"Now we need three lines to win a state tournament; teams are getting better every year, not worse," Kalin said. "When I look back at our tryouts over the past couple of years, we used to have 40-50 kids trying out every year and I was able to put together three very top lines. Now, we're not even cutting anybody.

"It's not to say we don't have talented players or talented teams, but we're shrinking. Right now we're the smallest tier 1 school in the state if we were going by enrollment."

Three teams that have no problem with numbers are Green Bay Notre Dame, Eau Claire Memorial and Wausau West, who just happen to be joining Superior in the ECM Tournament this weekend in Eau Claire.

"Notre Dame always has a great team, Memorial has developed some very good players of late and Pete Susens at Wausau West always has 50 to 60 kids trying out every year," Kalin said. "Those teams are in the tournament this year and all have won a state tournament in the past three years."

The Spartans open against GBND at 5 p.m. today at the Hobbs Ice Center. The other semifinal game between ECM and Wausau West will follow. The third-place and championship games are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, Saturday afternoon.

"We have to be better prepared than we were last year," Kalin said. "We took a 10-3 shellacking last year at the hands of Notre Dame. They got up on us immediately; it was 3-0 within the first three minutes. We were running around and weren't prepared to play."

Aaron Miller


Miller is poised to become the Spartans' all-time leading scorer. His 105 career points (49 goals, 56 assists) are tied for 11th all-time and 62 points behind Pat Dabec, who is in second place with 167 points (70-97).

Marty Wiitala, who graduated in 1982, is considered the school's all-time leading scorer. He led the Spartans in scoring for three seasons, including his senior year when he set his single-season scoring record 83 points (40-43). Wiitala also scored 29 goals his junior year and his remaining stats are still being researched.

"Hopefully Miller can catch both of them," Kalin said. "He's going to be on the ice in all kind of situations, power plays and penalty kills. We want, and need, him to be a solid goal scorer like he was last year."

SPARTAN SPIN: Mikel is the team's captain with Miller and Burger assistant captains. Wakefield-Zubiate will serve an honorary captain. ... Burger, who is also on the golf team, has grown at least three inches since last season. ... Superior's roster also includes seniors William Bednarek and Daniel Seipke, both members of the JV team. ... Team managers include Allie Shober, Kristina Manion, Katelyn Wiitala, Elyse Anderson and Dasia Smith.. ... Kalin's assistant coaches are Rob Downs, Ryan Hendry, Geoff Torzewski and Chad Beiswenger.

Superior High School

2013-14 Varsity Roster

1 Peyton Flanders 11 G

3 Grant Hanson 11 D


5 Mitch Anderson 10 D

6 Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate (C) 12 F

7 Matthew Hinaus 11 D

8 Noah Peterson 12 F

10 Anthony Bronson 11 F

11 Tyler Nystrom 11 F

14 Shane Tetzlaff 10 D

12 Bryan Bergstrom 11 F


16 Dylan Conklin 11 D

17 Caden Tchop 9 F

18 Daniel Mikel (C) 12 F

19 Mark Shold 11 F

20 Aaron Miller (A) 12 F

22 Beau Reder 10 F

23 Braden LaPorte 9 D

24 Jesse Polson 11 D

25 Kyler Krob 11 F

26 Daniel Burger (A) 11 F

28 Preston Michaud 10 F

30 Paxton Paine 12 G

2013-14 JV Roster

2 Dylan Ion 10 D

4 Carson Milligan 10 F

5 Mitch Anderson 10 D

7 Matthew Hinaus 11 D/F

8 Noah Peterson 12 F

9 Robert Severin 10 F

13 Alex Kaske 10 F

14 Shane Tetzlaff 10 D

15 William Bednarek 12 D

16 Dylan Conklin 11 D

17 Caden Tchop 9 F

21 Daniel Seipke 12 F

23 Braden LaPorte 9 D

25 Kyler Krob 11 F

27 Ethan Tungren 10 F

28 Preston Michaud 10 F

29 Trent Siegel 9 F

31 Devin Lindberg 10 G

33 Mike Nowicki 11 D

34 Noah Buhr 10 D

35 August Cadotte 11 G

37 Dylan Skorich 10 F

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