Prep boys hockey: Despite hot start, Superior falls to Eau Claire North
The Huskies scored three unanswered goals to end the game and hand the Spartans a third consecutive loss.
SUPERIOR — Just 40 seconds into the game, Superior senior Carson Gotelaere caught a rebound in front of the Eau Claire North net and sent it back just over the left shoulder of Huskies goalie Tristan Bock.
The Spartans jumped out to a two-goal lead after the first period, but North responded with three unanswered goals over the final two periods and took a 4-3 win Friday at Wessman Arena.
Caden Lia and Lucas Williams each added a goal in the first period, but the Spartans’ power play struggled, missing on four first-period penalties and failing to score an equalizer during a 5-minute power play late in the third period.
“We know that we were going to get some penalties called against us — that’s how the game seemed to work,” Superior coach Evan Nelson said. “We had a lot of power plays in the first period, but we kind of got set back on our wheels and we just weren’t capitalizing on any second-chance opportunities.”
Referees called things very closely, including two game disqualifications on each team late, including a boarding call that cost the Spartans Lia for the final minute of play.
North coach Ryan Parker said his team was sluggish coming “off the bus,” but some adjustments in the first intermission got the Huskies’ offense going.
“In that first period, we got caught overhandling pucks too much,” Parker said. “We had to make those adjustments. We kept trying to go east/west, we needed to keep the puck going north and south. Those were the main things we talked about, cutting back and pucks through the legs — just keep it going north, get pucks deep and we’ll hunt them from there. That got us back into our rhythm a little bit.”
Check Friday’s Superior Telegram for a feature on the leadership of seniors Carson Gotelaere and Caden Lia this season as well as the very personal reasons they organized the “Red the Rink” fundraiser Friday to benefit amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research.
The Spartans got away from their game plan in the final two periods, Nelson said, something that’s been a problem for them lately.
“That’s been our nemesis as of late,” Nelson said. “We start strong — outside of the Grand Rapids game on Tuesday where we finished well. It’s a young group in there and at some point, something’s got to give and we’re going to work our way out of it, but it’s clearly showing to be a little slower process than we want it to be.”
Nelson said the kids are responding well to coaching in practice and it is showing up in games. During the 3-2 loss to Grand Rapids, the Spartans struggled blocking shots before they got to goalie Trent Peterson. Superior spent a good portion of practice Wednesday doing shot blocking drills and Nelson said he felt like they were better Friday and they will keep working to improve.
“There still isn’t any quit in that group,” he said. “That’s something that we can definitely move forward with and hopefully we start to close games out versus giving them away and chasing them.”
Superior (6-7) will next host Chippewa Falls at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wessman Arena.
Eau Claire North 1-2-1—4
First period scoring — 1. S, Carson Gotelaere (Lucas Williams), 0:40; 2. S, Caden Lia (Braydon Hutig), 9:34; 3. ECN, Jack Kein (Brayton Thillman), 10:22; 4. S. Williams (Gotelaere, Lia), 14:41.
Second period scoring — 5. ECN, Nick Thompson (Cale Turner), 6:22; 6. ECN, Kein (Thompson, Jack Barthen), 10:38.
Third period scoring — 7. ECN, Kein (Barthen), 7:48.
Saves — Tristan Bock, ECN, 30; Trent Peterson, S, 22.