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Spartans Prepare for Division 2 in New WIAA Playoff System

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: January 21, 2020 11:11 PM

In 1971, Superior took home the first boys hockey state title in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association. For over four decades, the Spartans skated in the one division tournament. Entering his 19th season as head coach, Jason Kalin prepared his team to suit up for something new.

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"The coaches association recommended two divisions a long long time ago. We were going to go to two divisions, but we didn't really have enough teams to do it with equity," said Head Coach Jason Kalin.

The association implemented the change ahead of the 2019-2020 campaign, splitting the state's 86 teams into two divisions.

"That's probably been the most controversial thing that we've had to deal with." Kalin explained, "we have 54 teams in division one with four sections and 32 teams in division two with four sections."

Teams were initially divided base on enrollment, according to Kalin. Schools with higher student populations, plus those that opted up, went to division one. Superior, with just over 1,200 students, was placed in division two.

"Our administration, our coaches, our players. Everyone decided for a one year trial period, because we obviously haven't worked out the kinks as an association as to how this tournament is going to go. We decided to go where they're going to put us," Kalin said.

"At the start of the year we kind of just said, you know, coaches can deal with that. Players, players just play because that's what we have to do at the end of the day," said Spartan senior forward Gunnar Hansen.

By not opting up, the Spartans will avoid facing Hudson in the postseason. Hudson, playing in division one, has knocked off the 13-time state champs in the last three section playoffs.

"It's a little bitter sweet. It's nice to not have to deal with them but obviously they're like one of our biggest rivals and we love beating them," said Superior senior defenseman Alex Hanson on losing Hudson in their postseason schedule.

Hanson said they'll notice the change in competition, but are striving to make a section final appearance, which comes with home ice advantage. Next season, the Spartans can opt to continue their strong tradition in either division. 

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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