They say 'turnabout is fair play.'
So it was for Superior, as they avenged last year's 4-3 Sectional 1 final loss to New Richmond with a 3-0 blanking of the Tigers Saturday at the Amery Ice Arena.
The Spartans will be making their record-extending 34th trip to the big dance next week and will face Notre Dame in the 6:00pm quarterfinal on Thursday.
The Amery Ice Arena was filled to capacity and beyond (an estimated 1000 fans in attendance) as spectators watched the Tigers and the Spartans battle for the right to play at state.
The pace of the game was breakneck from the get-go, as both teams jousted with each other, making forays into the opposing ends almost every possession the first few minutes.
New Richmond had two power play chances in the first, but a shot off the post was the best result they had during the combined four minutes. The scoreless first period showed Superior with a 6-1 shot edge.
Midway through the second, Dane Sislo and Richard Mikel worked a give-and-go to perfection as they put the Spartans on the scoreboard. Sislo and Mikel were working on the left side, and Sislo slipped a pass to Mikel, who broke towards the net. After seeing his progress stopped, he passed it back to Sislo and the junior forward promply sent the puck into the net from the low left side for a 1-0 Superior lead.
Superior had two power play chances but didn't convert. The 1-0 lead showed on the scoreboard as the two teams went into the intermission. Shots were 12-5, in favor of Superior.
In the third, each team had early man-advantage chances, but neither squad capitalized.
With just over ten minutes to go, Gerald Mikel was working down low and put a shot on Tiger netminder Jacob Hilby, who made a right pad save. The puck bounced right back to Mikel in the low slot, and his second effort ended up in the back of the net to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Brothers Richard and Steven earned assists, so if you were scoring at home, it was 'Mikel from Mikel and Mikel.'
The fast and furious pace was maintained through the third period, although New Richmond seemed to tire a little.
With just over two minutes left, a Tiger penalty put the Spartans on the power play and they took advantage.
Daniel Litchke motored down the left side and made a right hand turn at the left dot and ripped a shot that beat Hilby high on the stick side just under the crossbar to make it 3-0. Brett Bukowski earned a helper with a breakout pass.
Shots were nearly even in the third, with Superior holding a 7-6 edge.
Crawford earned a shutout with a 12 save performance in the win, while Hilby stopped 22 of 25 on the other end for the Tigers.
Superior improved to 15-9-1, while New Richmond ended its season with a mark of 16-10.