The Superior High School boys hockey team is off the school’s best start in 15 years.
With wins over Duluth Denfeld (5-4) and Rice Lake (9-1) Thursday and Friday, respectively, at Wessman Arena, the Spartans’ 9-1 record is the best start since the 2003-2004 squad opened the season 13-0.
The school record for best start to a season is 14-0 in 1976-77.
The Spartans scored a hat trick in each period in their win over Rice Lake on Friday, Dec. 21.
Taylor Burger got things going right away as he broke in alone and beat Rice Lake goaltender Griffin VanGilder just 2:09 into the game. Drew DeBruyne picked up first varsity assist on Burger's seventh goal.
It went to 2-0 when Gunnar Hansen put the puck just under the crossbar with assists from Cayden Laurvick and Alex Hanson.
Defenseman Max Curtis made it 3-0 with his goal from the left point with 13.2 seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Spartans scored quickly again in the second period as Hansen made it 4-0 at 49 seconds.
Then it was Grant Sorensen's turn to score quickly as he tallied twice within a span of nine seconds. Laurvick and Hanson assisted on the first goal, and Hansen and Laurvick helped out on the second, which made the score 6-0 and put the game in running time.
The Spartans made it 7-0 on Burger’s second goal of the game 2:35 into the third period, but Rice Lake avoided being shut out when Trey Aaby scored at 4:50.
Superior sealed its victory with goals by Trevor Dalbec and Spencer Gudowski.
Dayton Podvin finished with eight saves for Superior, while Griffin VanGilder and Aiden Ferguson combined to stop 25 shots for Rice Lake.
In Superior’s win over Denfeld, Hansen led the Spartans with a three-point night, including a short-handed goal in the first period and two assists.
The Spartans and Hunters traded goals until Kobe Hansen gave Superior the lead for good (3-2) with four minutes remaining in the second period.
The Spartans extended their lead to 5-2 with Sorensen’s short-handed goal 37 seconds into the third period and Laurvick’s team-leading 16th goal six minutes later.
But the Hunters made things interesting when Payton Budisalovich scored at 11:14 then completed his hat trick with a power-play goal with 22 seconds remaining.
The Spartans also got a goal from Ian Johnson and an assist apiece from Laurvick, Burger, Dalbec, Derrick Mattson and Max Curtis.
Up next for Superior is Green Bay Notre Dame’s Showdown in Titletown Dec. 27-29 at Cornerstone Community Center in Ashwaubenon.
The Spartans open against Loyola (Ill.) Academy at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27, at the Cornerstone Arena in Ashwaubenon.
Loyola Academy is the defending Illinois state champion and currently has a record of 28-7.
SPARTAN SPIN: After a loss to Duluth Marshall, the 2003-04 Spartans won six more games to finish the regular season 19-1. They also won five playoff games before losing to Hudson 2-0 in the state championship game. … The Spartans were 10-1 in 2001-2002 and the 2002-03 team also got off to a 7-0 start, lost to Cloquet then won nine more games for a 16-1 record.
Rice Lake 0 0 1 - 1
Superior 3 3 3 - 9
First Period - 1. SHS, Taylor Burger (Drew DeBruyne), 2:09. 2. SHS, Gunnar Hansen (Cayden Laurvick, Alex Hanson), 8:56 (pp). 3. SHS, Max Curtis (G. Hansen, Jakob Holmlund), 16:47.
Second Period - 4. SHS, G. Hansen (Holmlund), 0:49; 5. SHS, Grant Sorensen (Laurvick, A. Hanson), 7:48. 6. SHS, Sorensen (G. Hansen, Laurvick), 7:57.
Third period - 7. SHS, Burger (A. Hanson), 2:35. 8. RL, Trey Aaby (Cole Fenske, Riley Strohm), 4:50. 9. SHS, Trevor Dalbec (Burger, Curtis), 8:11. 10. SHS, Spencer Gudowski (James Bronson, T.J. Sitek), 15:50.
Saves - Griffin VanGilder, 8-12-x-20; Aiden Ferguson, x-1-4-5. RL, 25; Dayton Podvin, SHS, 3-4-1-8.
Duluth Denfeld 1 1 2 - 4
Superior 1 2 2 - 5
First Period - 1. SHS, Gunnar Hansen (Cayden Laurvick), 4:20 (sh). 2. DD, Payton Budisalovich (Dylan Jouppi), 16:20.
Second Period - 3. SHS, Ian Johnson (Taylor Burger, Max Curtis), 4:07 (pp). 4. DD, Zach DeCaro (Jace Anderson), 10:00. 5. SHS, Kobe Hansen (Trevor Dalbec, Derrick Mattson), 13:00.
Third Period - 6. SHS, Grant Sorensen (G. Hansen), 0:37 (sh). 7. SHS, Lauvick (G. Hansen, K. Hansen), 6:00. 8. DD, Budisalovich (Jacob Eskola, Darren Shykes), 11:14; 9. DD, Budisalovich (Griffin Lehet, DeCaro), 16:38 (pp).
Saves - Shawn Easty, DD, 27; Dayton Podvin, SHS, 17.