MADISON – The Superior High School boys hockey team saved it best for last.
After going 8-15-1 during the regular season the Spartans capped off a 6-0 playoff run with a 6-0 victory over Wausau West in Saturday’s WIAA state championship game at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“If you would have asked me a month and a half ago, based on how well Hudson was playing and what we had to go through to get here, if I thought it was possible? Absolutely. Did I think it was going to happen? Well, there were question marks,” SHS coach Jason Kalin said. “Things had to come together and today we played a perfect game. I’m in awe, but I’m not surprised.”
The title was the Spartans’ 13th in school history, first since 2005 and the third for Kalin.
“Every title is different, this one is amazing,” Kalin said. “It’s very gratifying. We took a lot of bumps and bruises through the season, but we played the toughest schedule in Wisconsin and that prepared us. We lost a lot of close games and a lot of games in the last five minutes. But those challenges strengthened us and made us the team we are today.”
Troy Shold scored two goals and senior goaltender Peyton Flanders stopped all 20 shots for his second consecutive shutout as Superior finished the season 14-15-1.
“I don’t really care about the shutouts, we won state and we’re bringing the title back home to Superior where it belongs,” Flanders said. “The guys in front of me played well, we worked hard and deserved it.”
Superior set the tone early with a pair of goals in the opening 5:29 of the game.
Shold put the finishing touches on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Caden Tchop to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead at 2:55.
Tchop broke down the left wing and at the last second passed across the slot to Shold, who scored his second goal of the state tournament and eight goal of the year.
“It was perfect play,” Shold said. “I was wide open, Caden made a perfect pass and I was like ‘no way, this is unbelievable.’
“What a great start. From right then I knew we had them and we could do this.”
Beau Reder made it 2-0 at 5:29 when he took a pass from Grant Hanson and cleanly beat West goaltender Paul Weise with a high shot from the top of the right circle.
“I got a drop pass from Grant, just shot it on net and it went in,” Reder said. “It was nothing special, things just went our way today.”
The Warriors regrouped and controlled the play early in the second period.
But the Spartans withstood the pressure and then exploded for three goals in a span of five minutes for a commanding 5-0 lead.
Tyler Nystrom found a loose puck in the slot and whipped it past Weise at 10:22. Daniel Burger and Reder both picked up their 10th assists on Nystrom’s 10th goal.
“I don’t know how the puck got there,” Nystrom said. “I just turned around, fired it and the goalie wasn’t ready for it, I guess.
“This is the best feeling in the world. I’m speechless, it still hasn’t set in. A lot of people didn’t believe in us and now Superior’s back on top.”
Thirty-two seconds later it went to 4-0 when Troy Shold led a 2-on-1 break and put the puck into the top right corner with assist from Mark Shold and Braden LaPorte.
“The guy went right on him (Mark Shold), he totally left me open and then I buried it,” Troy Shold said. “I can’t explain what I’m feeling right now. My first year here, I finally got to play with my brother - it’s amazing.”
It went to 5-0 with 1:39 left in the third period when Tchop took a centering pass from Mark Shold and scored from between the circles before getting leveled by a Warrior. Jesse Polson also picked up assist on Tchop’s ninth goal of the year.
“I was kind of awkward when I got the pass, but as soon as I let it go it went straight into the net,” Tchop said. “It was incredible to score in a state tournament. It feels great, it’s unreal.”
Flanders kept his shutout intact early in the third period when he came up with saves on Alex Gessler’s break-away attempt and then the rebound.
“It was a quick play, I can‘t tell you what I was thinking then,” Flanders said. “All I know is that I just wanted to stop the puck and keep it out of the net.”
Flanders had 14 saves in his first varsity shutout in Friday’s 3-0 win over Cedarburg.
“I’m so happy for that young man, he put on a performance this weekend,” Kalin said. “He made some really nice stops, including on the breakaway. The puck got loose on him, but he held his ground and made himself big.
“He’s a catcher, so he does a great job of keeping the pucks in front of him. Those were huge saves for him.”
The Spartans put the game into running time when Preston Michaud scored his first goal of the season with 3:01 remaining. Michaud’s short-handed tally came on a break-away after taking a pass from Reder.
“To see how hard we came out and how we kept the foot on the gas was something to see. It was really fun to watch,” Kalin said. “A lot of people didn’t even give us a look coming here this weekend. There were some people that didn’t think we could win it all, but we did. We believed the entire time.”
Paul Weise and Jacob Warnke combined to make 19 saves for the Warriors, whose season end at 22-5-3.
Superior and Wausau West also played in the season opener with the Warriors winning in overtime at the Eau Claire Memorial Tournament.
“We knew they were a good team and I did not expect a running-time game at all,” Flanders said. “When we lost to them in overtime it was on a fluke goal and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior leads in most state championships with 13. The Spartans also finished second 11 times and are now 60-24 overall in the state tournament. … The Spartans defeated Janesville Craig/Parker 4-2 in Thursday’s quarterfinals and Cedarburg 3-0 in Friday’s semifinals. … Superior is now 7-4 all-time against the Warriors, including 3-2 at state. Saturday was the first time they played in the championship game. … Superior has actually won 15 state titles when you count 1969 and 1970 when the tournament wasn’t affiliated with the WIAA.
A welcome home celebration/recognition for the boys hockey team will be scheduled for the week of March 16. The school is on spring break this week.
Tyler Nystrom’s dad, Jim, is in the WIAA state tournament record book for scoring all four goals in Superior’s 4-3 win over Madison Memorial in a 1986 semifinal game. The Spartans went on to lose to Northland Pines 6-1 in the championship game.
Two other players from Superior have also scored four goals in a game - Bob Berg (1971) and Erik Raygor (1991).
Pat Grzadzielewski of Mosinee holds the state record with five goals in 1972.
Wausau West......................... 0 0 0 - 0
Superior.................................... 2 3 1 - 6
First Period: 1. SHS, Troy Shold 8 (Caden Tchop 9), 2:55. 2. SHS, Beau Reder 8 (Grant Hanson 9), 5:29.
Penalties: Kellen Tharaldson, WW (cross checking), 16:56.
Second Period: 3. SHS, Tyler Nystrom 10 (Daniel Burger 10, Reder 10), 10:22. 4. SHS, T. Shold 9 (Mark Shold 9, Braden LaPorte 7), 10:54. 5. SHS, Tchop 9 (M. Shold 7, Jesse Polson 14), 15:21.
Penalties: Matt Hinaus, SHS (tripping), 6:35. Nystrom, SHS (slashing), 16:12. Sheldon Oja, WW (slashing), 16:12.
Third Period: 6. SHS, Preston Michaud 1 (Reder 11), 13:59 (sh)
Penalties: Hunter Ricklefs, WW (high stick), 2:44. Matt Hinaus, SHS (slashing), 12:57
Saves: Paul Weise, WW, 6-5-5-16. Jacob Warnke, WW, x-x-3-3. Peyton Flanders, SHS, 6-5-9-20.