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Five overtime thriller

The River Falls boys hockey team did its best Tuesday night to keep Superior from making it to a ninth straight WIAA State Tournament, but in a game that lasted nearly four hours and included a total of 96 shots on goal, the Spartans outlasted the Wildcats, 2-1, with a goal 30 seconds into the fifth overtime in a sectional semifinal in Superior.

"It was just an incredible hockey game," River Falls head coach Nick Jenkins said. "It was something special to be a part of. You can't hang your heads after something like that. We lost, but those boys got after it. Just a great effort, and I was so proud to be behind the bench."

The Spartans, the No. 1 seed in the sectional and the sixth-ranked team in the state, improved to 15-7-1 and moves on to face New Richmond (17-7-1) Saturday afternoon in Superior with the winner advancing to next week's state tournament in Madison. River Falls' season comes to an end with a record of 11-10-2.

After a scoreless first period, Superior took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Nolan Holcombe 36 seconds in the second. River Falls tied the score when Karl Andersen won a faceoff with 3.2 seconds remaining in the second period and Zach Lindquist poked the puck back to defenseman Cooper Maxwell, who ripped a shot past Spartan goalie Joel Pettingill with 0.00 showing on the clock.

The game was delayed nearly 20 minutes in the first overtime when a slap shot by River Falls' Dylan Dock shattered the glass behind the Superior net.

Superior scored the game-winner on an unassisted goal by Chris Bishop 30 seconds into the fifth overtime.

River Falls goaltender Garrett Jensen finished with 57 saves while Pettingil made 36.

"I have never seen a goalie play like Garrett did; it was ridiculous," Jenkins said. "He stepped up to the plate big time, along with the rest of the guys."

See the March 3 print edition of the River Falls Journal for more on this game.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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