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Spartans in 7th heaven

HUDSON -- Jason Kalin has coached the Superior High School boys hockey team for seven years and he has yet to miss coaching in the Wisconsin state boys hockey tournament.

HUDSON -- Jason Kalin has coached the Superior High School boys hockey team for seven years and he has yet to miss coaching in the Wisconsin state boys hockey tournament.

The Spartans (17-6) made sure Kalin remained perfect by defeating the River Falls Wildcats 6-1 Saturday afternoon before 900 spectators at the John Gornick Memorial Arena in Hudson.

The Sectional 1 champs will face Milwaukee University School in the state quarterfinals Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Alliant Energy Center at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison. MUS advanced with a 3-1 win over Germantown.

"They're all good. It's a good feeling," said Kalin, when asked about how this year's sectional title compares with his other six. "You're always worried coming into a game like this whether or not the boys are prepared for it; I think we were. We prepared well throughout the week for what River Falls had and defensively we didn't give up very much."

To help achieve their goal of advancing to state, Kalin had to dig into his bag of tricks, which included adding sophomore Mitch Kontny to the line of junior Pat Dalbec and senior Noah Gilbertson.

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The hunch paid off as the trio scored four goals and dished out six assists. Dalbec notched two goals and two assists, while Kontny contributed two goals and one assist and Gilbertson helped out on two goals.

"We put them together against Hudson when we won 2-1 in overtime down here and they combined on the winning goal," Kalin said. "I like the way that line plays together. Mitch has excellent vision for the ice and they cycled the puck very well. They were also supportive of each other and took shots when they needed to.

"All three of them came through for us big."

The Spartans also got third-period goals from Chris Bishop and Dan Kolenda. Kyle Johnson just missed out on his seventh shutout of the season when River Falls' Adam Reihl scored with five seconds remaining.

"Stuff like that happens, but it was nice to play a solid game," Johnson said. "I'm really happy with the way we played and just hope now that we can finish it off this year (at state). We have a good team and we should be able to do pretty well down there."

The Spartans finished second at state last year, losing to Fond du Lac in the championship game.

The Spartans came out flying on Saturday with Kontny scoring his third and fourth goals in the first period.

"I was just trying to put the puck on net and they went in," Kontny said. "The first one was just a lucky shot and on the second one I got a beautiful pass from Patty (Dalbec). I was just coming off the bench, hollered for him and he found me like he always does.

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"We work really good together, Pat knows where to find all of us. You also can't go wrong with two playmakers on your line."

Dalbec scored both goals of the second period, from the left circle at 2:42 and from the left goal line at 12:12.

"The second goal went in off his side," Dalbec said. "I saw Mitch score a goal like that in the first period, so I knew that if I put it on net things would happen and it went in."

Bishop made it 5-0 on a power play 6:52 into the third period with assists from Dalbec and Kontny.

Kolenda's sixth goal of the season came after shots by John LeDoux and Tim Smith on a power play with 6:03 remaining.

"It was a good team effort, a good game all around for everybody," Dalbec said. "Now we just have to go to Madison and take care of business."

Reihl's goal came after a shot by Trent Frye.

"Kyle just gave up a big rebound," Kalin said. "That was a tough one to give up because we wanted to go into the state tournament without giving up any (goals in the playoffs). But I think we had enough cushion to take care of it."

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The Wildcats (18-5) advanced to Saturday's game with a 6-1 win over Hudson.

"We knew Superior was going to come ready to play and expect to win and all of that stuff," River Falls coach Jim Joseph said. "Tuesday was a big win for our program. It may have been a case where we spent so much energy to beat Hudson that we might not have had much left, emotionally or physically."

Defensively, the Spartans shut down the line of Frey, Ross Anderson and Dylan Dock, who combined to score 69 goals and 62 assists on the season.

"I don't think I've ever seen a line as fast as their No. 1 line," Johnson said. "But we shut them down and bottled them up and they couldn't really do anything with the puck."

"The game plan was to keep them on the ice as long as we possibly could, that's why Kyle was playing all of the icings," Kalin said. "We wanted to keep the whistles out of the game and in the process tire them out."

SPARTAN SPIN: SHS presold 352 tickets for Saturday's game. There were many more Superior fans that bought tickets at the door. ... Johnson had his stick broken when making a save and was forced to play for a couple of minutes with Kontny's stick. "It hit the handle, broke it and it took a while to get the puck frozen," Johnson said. "Luckily they didn't get any shots during that time, except when I finally froze the puck."

River Falls 0 0 1 -- 1

Superior 2 2 2 -- 6

First period -- 1. SHS, Mitch Kontny 3, 6:10; 2. SHS, Kontny, 4, (Pat Dalbec), 7:57.

Second period -- 3. SHS, Dalbec 17 (Noah Gilbertson 16), 2:42; 4. SHS, Dalbec (Gilbertson 17), 12:12.

Third period -- 5. SHS, Chris Bishop 7 (Dalbec 32, Kontny 6), 6:52, (pp); 6. SHS, Dan Kolenda 6 (John LeDoux 13, Tim Smith 14), 11:14, (pp); 7. RF Adam Reihl 3 (Trent Frye 22), 16:55.

Saves -- Garrett Jensen, RF, 10-7-5--22; Kyle Johnson, SHS, 5-5-11--21.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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