Spartans play for state berth; UWS hosts key NCHA series

The area hockey scene gets hot and heavy this weekend as the University of Wisconsin-Superior men's and women's hockey teams host key series and the Superior High School boys go for their seventh straight state tournament berth.

The area hockey scene gets hot and heavy this weekend as the University of Wisconsin-Superior men's and women's hockey teams host key series and the Superior High School boys go for their seventh straight state tournament berth.

Action begins tonight with the UWS men hosting UW-Eau Claire in the first game of their Peters Cub quarterfinal series. Games today and Saturday begin at 7:05 p.m.

The Lady Yellowjackets also host the Finlandia Lions on Saturday and Sunday. If UWS sweeps the Lions, it would clinch the NCHA regular-season title and host the league playoff tournament Feb. 29 to March 2.


The Spartans (16-6) will hit the road for a 2:30 p.m. date Saturday with the River Falls Wildcats (18-4). The game will be played at the Hudson Ice Arena.


"It should be a pretty good battle," SHS senior forward Wade Berkseth said. "They beat a strong Hudson team pretty good Tuesday night. We just have to work hard and play our game. If do that , we should be all right."

Berkseth scored a goal in the Spartans' 2-0 win over New Richmond Tuesday night at Wessman Arena.

River Falls (18-4) advanced with a 6-1 win at Hudson. The Wildcats and Raiders split during the regular season.

"I'm looking forward to playing on the road, I really am," SHS coach Jason Kalin said. "I like playing down there and I like going on the road with these guys. It's going to be a fun game to watch. I know the guys are fired up and will be ready to play."

Ross Anderson scored three goals, Trent Frey, Jackson Rohde and Danny Patrick each scored once and freshman goaltender Garrett Jensen made 18 saves in the Wildcats' win at Hudson.

River Falls also outshot Hudson 26-19.

Frey leads the Wildcats with 32 goals and Anderson is the team leader with 29 assists and 55 points.

Pat Dalbec leads Superior scoring with 16 goals and 30 assists for 46 points. Mike Plummer had four power-play goals, Taylor Leuthner had two short-handed goals and Johnson has six shutouts in goal.


'Jacket women

With a 9-1-1 record since the Christmas break, the UWS women's hockey team was on a roll heading into its series last weekend against Eau Claire.

The trend continued against the Blugolds, as the Yellowjackets swept the weekend series 4-2 and 3-0 to improve to 18-4-1 overall and 13-2-1 in the NCHA.

"It was one of those weekends when you don't play your best but still manage to get the wins, so that is a positive," UWS coach Dan Laughlin said. "However, we need to get back to playing high-energy hockey every shift."

Senior Gina Baranzelli continued to light the lamp at a torrid pace for the Yellowjackets, as she scored a pair of goals both nights and now has 21 goals on the season to lead the NCHA.

"In the past I think that I felt a little bit more intimidated than I do now, and with me being a senior and also a captain, I feel that I just really needed to step up and help lead our team to victories," Baranzelli said. "I have been focusing a lot more on what I need to get done on the ice and off the ice to make myself better.

"This is my last chance to live the dream of going all the way, and I will do whatever it takes to help lead my team to a victory."

"Gina has been a leader for us all season -- it's through her effort and perseverance that she is having success," Laughlin said.


On Saturday and Sunday the Yellowjackets host Finlandia for a two-game series at Wessman Arena. Both games are scheduled for 2 p.m. starts. If the 'Jackets get at least a win and a tie, they win the NCHA regular-season title and would host the O'Brien Cup Feb. 29-March 2.

"The Finlandia series will be tough," Laughlin said. "They play a physical game so we need to be disciplined and most important play our game every shift of every period."

"It's getting to be more and more heartbreaking every day knowing that I am a senior and that I will be done soon," Baranzelli said. "It seems like the weeks are flying by and there is nothing that I can do to stop it. All I can say though is that I am very proud of myself for how well I have been playing. I have stepped up a lot. I am also proud of our team. It is the best feeling in the world knowing that I will be ending my last year on such a great hockey team."

Baranzelli is holding out hope that her team will get an NCAA berth following the postseason playoffs. All berths in Division III women's hockey are given out on an at-large basis, so the 'Jackets will have to keep winning to have a shot at playing for the national championship. Right now, UWS, Stevens Point and Gustavus Adolphus are all in the hunt for an NCAA berth.

UWS currently has a 2-2 record against those teams, but could meet Stevens Point in the playoffs.

"It has been an honor to play with every single one of the girls on the team," Baranzelli said. "I never knew that is could be so much fun to be on a college team before. We are like one big family. I also feel honored to have Dan (Laughlin) as my coach. He is a great guy and a great coach. He has helped me grow from a freshman to the type of player that I am today. I couldn't have asked for more. With a great team and a great coach, I've got it all. All I can hope for now is to end my senior year at nationals."

'Jacket men

The UWS men's hockey team went into last weekend knowing it needed at least a tie against St. Scholastica or an Eau Claire win over Stevens Point to get home ice in the playoffs.

In the end, UWS got both and finished fourth in the NCHA. That means the Yellowjackets will host Eau Claire in a two-game series at 7:05 p.m. today and Saturday at Wessman Arena.

The winner will move on to play in the NCHA semifinals on March 1, which will be hosted by St. Norbert. The finals are scheduled for March 8, also at St. Norbert.

Junior forward Kevin Huck (12-11--23) and freshman forward Logan Isley (10-11--21) lead the Yellowjackets in scoring.

Sean Garrity leads Eau Claire in goals (11) and points (24) this season. He has 24 goals and 51 points for his career. Junior right winger Andrew Johnson also has 11 goals. Sophomore Tyler Brigl has played in goal in every Blugolds game except one, posting a 2.45 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. His goals-against average shrunk to 1.92 in conference games.

'JACKET JOTTINGS: The 'Jackets have established a team record by going to overtime 10 times so far this season. That breaks the record of nine, previously held by the 2004-05 team. ... The recent tie with St. Scholastica was the eighth of the season for the 'Jackets, giving them the school record for ties in a season, topping the mark of seven set by the 2001-02 national championship squad. ... The 'Jackets haven't swept a first-round playoff series, or any playoff series for that matter, since dispatching St. Scholastica in round one in 2004-05. ... The 'Jackets will be meeting UW-Eau Claire in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in school history. They have won the previous three meetings and won them all via the two-game sweep. ... Four Yellowjackets -- Logan Isley, Derek Paige, Seth Reda and Andrew MacKenzie -- played in all 25 regular season games. ... Senior captain Dustin Cosgrove returned to the lineup against St. Scholastica in the season finale, just his sixth game of the season. ... Both men's games this weekend can be heard locally on KUWS 91.3 FM. ... More on UWS men's hockey can be found at .

Mike Sylvester and the Yellowjacket Buzz contributed to this report.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
What To Read Next
The 28th induction ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, May 4.
NASCAR on Ice, an ice racing event featuring NASCAR drivers and retired cars, was postponed a second time on Wednesday due to ice conditions.
Ice cross racers are competing in three divisions during multiple days of competition at Mont du Lac Resort in Superior as part of the U.S. Ice Cross Association's annual ATSX 250 event.
Three-day Ski de She camp and clinic in Cable will include Olympic champion Kikkan Randall.