WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — After Superior boys hockey forward Carter Kalin scored in the first period of the Wisconsin Division 2 state semifinals Thursday night at Spooner Civic Center, he went to the bench, where he was greeted by his father, Spartans coach Jason Kalin.
Carter Kalin was asked what his father said to him.
“Nothing much, really,” Carter said, laughing. “He more praised Drew Scharte for the pass than me getting the goal.”
Hey, that’s just dad being dad.
“Yeah, but he told me, ‘Nice job,’ so that was nice,” Carter Kalin added.
He’ll take what he can get.
The Kalins will be looking for more father-son moments when the second-seeded Spartans (11-5) play top-seeded and defending state champion St. Mary’s Springs (25-2) at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at South Wood County Recreation Center here in Wisconsin Rapids.
While Jason Kalin takes a tough-love approach to raising Carter — and coaching his team — he admitted what happened Thursday was special.
“Pretty cool,” he said. “I got to tell you that I try to separate being a father from being a coach as much as possible. Honestly, I think I’m harder on him than I am on anybody else. He does a lot of really good things, and he gets coached a little bit at home. I am so proud of him, and I’m proud of the entire team, but it’s a pretty special moment when your son scores in a state tournament game.”
Carter Kalin, a junior, opened the scoring at 16:01 of the first period against Lakeland Union Thursday after a terrific no-look, backhand pass from Scharte — from his knees — leaving Kalin with an open net.
“It was amazing — stuff like that just goes by so quick,” Carter Kalin said. “I haven’t scored a goal like that in a big game since Bantams. It was just a great pass from Drew. I don’t know how he did it; he always gets puck luck like that, but that was amazing.”
The Spartans went on to beat Lakeland Union 4-1.
Superior will be playing in its 25th title game and has 13 titles, in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2015. The last three of those titles came under Jason Kalin, who has 309 victories in 20 seasons as coach.
“It’s awesome,” Carter Kalin said. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment for my whole life, playing for my dad. Growing up as a little kid, you know, going to those state tournaments and seeing them win … I was there in 2015, when they beat Wausau West 6-0 (in Madison), and obviously it’s been a dream of mine to get to this game. Hopefully we can pull it off and get the win.”
The 5-foot-10 Kalin plays on a line with the 5-9 Scharte, a senior, and the 5-11 Tyler Friedrich, a junior.
“I love playing with those guys,” Kalin said. “They both dish the puck really well and play hard in the corners. We’re all scrappy.”
Kalin said his father and him will talk puck on the ride home from games. The older Kalin always makes sure his son watches film after all his games, and when he isn’t scheming for the Spartans, Jason Kalin is watching NHL games downstairs at the family home in Oliver.
“He just really loves the game,” Carter Kalin said.
Speaking of love, what does he think of his father’s tough-love treatment of him?
“Dad is hard on me when he needs to be,” Carter Kalin said. “When I’m not doing something I need to be doing he gets in my face a little bit, which I expect him to do, and that’s part of him being a coach. He treats me no differently than any other kid.”
Little big man
Superior got 23 saves from goalie Jamin Durfee against Lakeland Union and will need another strong performance from the 5-foot-7 senior to knock off St. Mary’s Springs.
After Durfee stopped a flurry by Lakeland Union late in the second period Thursday, a few of his Spartans teammates came over to tell him good job and hang in there.
“Jamin played outstanding,” said sophomore forward Carson Gotelaere, who scored the game-winner against Lakeland Union in the second period. “If it wasn’t for him, we probably would have been down a few times. They had the momentum for a while in the second period, but he just kept us in the game with some unreal saves.”
Just before Gotelaere’s goal, Lakeland Union had a breakaway opportunity but Thunderbirds’ star Max Toijala came up empty — not because of a fantastic Durfee save, but because Toijala missed by an inch or two.
“Oh my god, he had me beat,” Durfee said. “I lucked out, basically, but then right after that we scored, so it was a huge momentum swing. That changed the tone of the game, especially in the second period.”
Durfee plans on majoring in biology and is leaning toward attending St. Scholastica and playing hockey and golf. He is the Spartans’ No. 1 golfer in the spring.
Durfee is one of five seniors on the team.
“We kind of have a smaller class, so we always depend on the younger guys to step up and kind of take on a leadership role,” Durfee said. “This year, it means so much for us seniors, and a lot of these younger guys have been stepping in for us because they know how much we care.”
Have team, will travel
Jason Kalin said he will miss the Spooner Civic Center — the Spartans’ home away from home in the playoffs — but that the Spartans will definitely be back.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Kalin said of Thursday, when there were about a vocal 300 fans in attendance. “Spooner has been just awesome for us. It was a blessing in disguise. We’re always happy to come down here and play — (he laughed) — we’re going to keep scheduling some games here a couple times a year.”