New Richmond boys hockey stopped by Superior in WIAA sectional finalNew Richmond and Superior are building a tradition of meeting in the boys hockey sectional championship game.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
New Richmond and Superior are building a tradition of meeting in the boys hockey sectional championship game.
Those two teams met in the sectional title game for the third straight year on Saturday. Last year New Richmond broke Superior’s stronghold on the sectional championship, but this year Superior took the title back, beating New Richmond 3-0 at the Amery Ice Arena.
The Tigers finish the season with a 16-10 record.
Superior and New Richmond were both taking defense-first attitudes for Saturday’s game. That resulted in no goals and a total of seven shots on goal in the first period, with Superior getting six of those shots.
Tiger coach Adam Swanda told the team the game would come down to the pivotal moments. In the Tigers’ definition, pivotal moments center around power plays and offensive zone faceoffs.
“Last year we were successful in those critical moments,” Swanda said.
This year, the Tigers couldn’t get any productivity out of their power plays. They didn’t win a high percentage of the faceoffs and when they did, they couldn’t handle the puck cleanly.
The Tiger coaching staff had set a game plan of attacking Superior’s goaltender, but that never materialized. The coaches screamed “on net” until they were hoarse during the game, hoping the Tiger could pounce on rebounds for scoring chances. But with just 12 shots on goal, that facet of the Tigers’ offense never materialized.
Superior finally got the opening goal with 6:18 gone in the second period. Superior’s Dane Sislo scored off a sweet drop pass from Richard Mikel in the slot, leaving Sislo a large part of the Tiger net to shoot into.
The score remained 1-0 until the 6:52 mark of the third period. Superior’s Trent Olson was able to shoot from the slot, then banged home his rebound for the goal.
Superior scored with 75 seconds left in the game. This came after the Tigers began playing five players deep in the offensive zone, trying to get a goal to get them back in contention.
As the game went on, the Tigers seemed to stray away from the plans the coaches had set out. One of the main plans was to use rapid-fire passes to get the puck up ice quickly. Swanda said the Tigers had far too many rushes where players tried to skate through the Superior defense, which resulted in the Tigers turning the puck over before they could establish an offensive attack.
The one player Swanda singled out for his strong play on Saturday was senior goalie Jacob Hilby, who made 22 saves.
“Jacob had a great outing,” Swanda said.
The Tigers reached the sectional championship game by putting together one of their best starts of the season in the sectional semifinal game against Hudson last Tuesday.
Four first period goals and another 65 seconds into the second period gave the Tigers an insurmountable lead as they ended Hudson’s season, 6-3.
The Tigers were able to get odd-man rushes several times in the first period and they turned those opportunities into goals. The first score came when senior Parker Olson was able to beat Hudson goalie Matt Strachota low to the stick side 5:12 into the game.
Hudson’s goalies were giving up rebounds and the Tigers took advantage of that on the next two goals. Strachota was able to stop Nate Jones’ shot on the power play, but Austin Zywiec pounced on the rebound for the Tigers’ second goal, 8:33 into the period.
Tiger junior Tyler Lagerstrom scored 21 seconds later, rapping home a rebound after an initial shot by defenseman Kaleb Kier.
At that point the Tigers had an 11-2 edge in shots and their momentum was at a peak level.
The fourth goal came when the Tigers were again able to get behind the Hudson defense. Olson and Zywiec went in on a 2-on-1, with Zywiec scoring off a feed from Olson.
Zywiec would complete his hat trick early in the third period. Senior defenseman Kyle Montgomery fired a shot from the right faceoff circle. Zywiec was stationed in front of new Hudson goalie Josh Mattis, and Zywiec was able to redirect Montgomery’s shot past Mattis.
The game then took a 180-degree turn. The Tigers had completely owned the first 18 minutes of the game, but Hudson rebounded to thoroughly outplay the Tigers in the rest of the second period. The Tigers hurt themselves by taking five penalties in the period. Hudson got back into the game, scoring three times in the third period, two of them on the power play.
Just as abruptly as the momentum swung in Hudson’s direction in the second period, it swung back the Tigers’ way in the third period. New Richmond dominated puck possession, outshooting the Raiders 24-6. Jeremy Leavens scored the only goal of the period, on the power play with 7:21 left in the game.
Swanda said the start to Tuesday’s game ranked among the three best the team produced this season, along with their starts against Rice Lake and Menomonie.
“We were able to not give them any momentum in the first period,” Swanda said.