Gotelaere had just served his duty in the Wisconsin Division 2 semifinals, up and down the ice, only for Lakeland Union star Max Toijala going the other way in a breakaway.
I thought he scored, Gotelaere said, but then the audience started going crazy. Then it was pretty much adrenaline.
Sadly, Toijala didn’t score, and Gotelaere soon had a rush the other way with teammate Mason Stenberg, who saw Gotelaere for a goal at 10:16 in the second period that turned out to be the game winner in Superiors 4-1 on Thursday . night before about 300 fans at the Spooner Civic Center.
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I was gassed, Gotelaere said afterwards, reliving the moment. I was back in the zone. I was probably on the red line when he missed, and then I saw the puck come up and suddenly we had a 2-to-1. I said, Okay, I’ll have to speed it up here. I thought Mason was actually going to shoot it, but then he looked up at me and slid it over. I got the pass on the heel of the stick, but I got enough and it crept through on the other side.
The second-seeded Superior (11-5) moves up to play the best-seeded St. Marys Springs (23-2) for the state title Saturday at 9:30 AM in Wisconsin Rapids.
Superior, which got 23 saves from senior goalkeeper Jamin Durfee, plays in his 25th state title game and won championships in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2015.
Lakeland Union (13-5) played in its first state tournament, but both head coaches downplayed the importance of experience in this tournament. After all, there was no one from Superior on that 2015 team.
Superior striker Drew Scharte (26) and Lakeland defender Teag Wagner (24) collide in the first period on Thursday, February 18 during the semi-finals of the state of Wisconsin at the Spooner Civic Center in Spooner. (Tyler Schank / [email protected])
No, Superior won this game with its brand of northern hockey with depth and physicality, wearing down the smaller Thunderhawks.
(Toijala) is the kind of kid who can change the game, said Spartans coach Jason Kalin. Jamin made some big stops with him and we played a very physical game, especially against him. We tried not to go out to hurt someone, but the bottom line is that once he got the puck, we had to make some contact with him so he wouldn’t be on full blast at the end of the game.
Superior had no one on Toijala for the main game of the game.
Superior opened the scoring when Kalin’s son, Carter Kalin, scored at 4:01 PM of the first period after a great backhand pass from senior Drew Scharte, leaving Kalin with an open net.
Superior goalkeeper Jamin Durfee (30) looks at the puck before catching it in the first period against Lakeland in the semi-finals of the state of Wisconsin at the Spooner Civic Center in Spooner on Thursday, February 18. (Tyler Schank / [email protected])
Lakeland Union tied the game 1-1 at five minutes in the second before Toijala came up short despite Durfee and a wide open net. Toijalas’ shot was just over.
He had beaten me in that escape, but actually I was lucky, Durfee said.
Lakeland Union coach Jake Suter, a cousin of Minnesota Wild defender Ryan Suter, was proud of his team for not being deflated by that miss. This game was put away late.
They did everything they were asked to do, and that’s been our team’s story throughout the year, said Jake Suter, adding that this was the most fun year of hockey he’s ever had. They never gave up. There is no stop in this group. The future looks bright for Lakeland hockey, and these guys have done something here that will last forever.
Durfee couldn’t calm down until Kell Piggott hit one house at 2:19 pm of the third period and Stenberg added an empty net at 4:24 pm.
The last eight minutes of the game, with only one goal ahead, were the longest eight minutes of my life, Durfee said. When we finally scored that third goal, a bit of ease came back, but I knew I couldn’t give up at that point. Then came that fourth goal, and all that nervousness just went away.
And Gotelaeres’ goal turned out to be the match winner indeed.
He was asked if that was the best goal of his life.
Probably close, Gotelaere said with a smile, but the last game I scored the overtime winner at Rice Lake. That was pretty good too.
You could say Gotelaere as if the Spartans are running.
Lakeland Union 0-1-01
First Period 1. S, Carter Kalin (Drew Scharte, Tyler Friedrich), 4:01 PM.
Second Period 2. LU, Cody Olson (Thomas McCumber, Brody Vizanko), 5:10; 3. S, Carson Gotelaere (Mason Stenberg), 10:16.
Third Period 4. S, Kell Piggott (Robert Powell, Andrew Rude), 2:19 PM; 5. S, Stenberg (Friedrich), 16:24 (en).
Rescues Max Masayesva, LU, 27; Jamin Durfee, S, 23.
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