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Once again, Superior and New Richmond clash in hockey playoffs

New Richmond senior defenseman Jarek Manske (4) battles in the corner with a pair of Superior players for control of the puck during last Tuesday's sectional semifinal game in Superior.1 / 2
New Richmond's Cole Hallmark (17) tries to avoid the stickwork of two Superior players to get a shot away in last Tuesday's sectional semifinal game.2 / 2

You might as well get it on the calendar for next winter.

It seems that every year, the New Richmond boys hockey team collides with Superior deep in the WIAA playoffs.

The Tigers and Spartans met again this year, this time in last Tuesday's sectional semifinals at Superior's Wessman Arena. Superior came out with the upper hand in this year's battle of the area hockey titans, winning 4-1. Superior then advanced to the WIAA state tournament by defeating Hudson 2-1 in overtime in Friday's sectional championship game.

Superior will face Fond du Lac at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday in the opening round of the WIAA State Boys Hockey Championships at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

New Richmond finishes the season with a record of 10-11-2.

It was a frustrating season for the Tigers, one where the squad always hit roadblocks that prevented them from gaining any momentum.

"We've had an injury-illness riddled season like I've never seen before," said Tiger coach Adam Swanda.

Swanda said it wasn't until the final three weeks of the season that the team was fully healthy and he was able to use the line the coaching staff had envisioned for the season.

The Tigers won their tournament opener against Amery, but they knew they'd face a much tougher challenge against Superior, the top seed in the sectional tournament bracket.

Superior scored the only goal of the first period. The Tigers tied the score with a power play goal three minutes into the second period. Three seniors combined to produce the goal. Michael Bodsberg made a strong move to get the puck to the front of the net. Jarek Manske kept the puck alive in a scrum in front of the net. The puck went to Tyler Lagerstrom, who took it behind the net and tucked it into the other corner of the goal.

The Tigers gave up a power play goal five minutes later. The Tigers had done an excellent job killing the penalty, but they failed to clear the puck on this attempt. Superior's Trent Olson got the puck at the blue line, skated in and hammered the puck past Tiger goalie Aaron Chwialkowski.

Superior leading scorer Aaron Miller scored five minutes later, batting home a rebound. It was the second of three rebound goals for the Spartans. Their final goal came with 37 seconds left in the game.

Swanda said the Tigers played very well in the third period, including a pair of power plays. When they weren't able to score off either power play, it put the team in a dire situation.