There was a time when the Hudson-Superior hockey rivalry was a fairly one-sided affair in favor of the Spartans.
Superior ended the Raiders' season in either the sectional semifinals or finals four out of five years from 2011-15. But Hudson has turned the tables lately, running their record to 5-0-1 over the Spartans in the team's last six meetings, including a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday, Dec. 2, at Gornick Arena.
"It's always a big game," Raider coach Brooks Lockwood said. "It's big for seeding; it's big for confidence. It's become a huge rivalry."
Sophomore Peyton Hanson's goal 2 minutes, 32 seconds into overtime, after Superior had scored with 51 seconds left in regulation to tie the score, gave the Raiders the 2-1 win while improving their record to 4-0 to start the season.
Lockwood said the Raiders got better as the game wore on.
"I thought they kind of controlled the first two periods but in the third period we played much better hockey," he said. "Even though they scored that goal late I thought we controlled things and we carried that into the overtime."
The game was scoreless through a first period that included seven total penalties, including one resulting in a five-minute power play for the Spartans.
Junior Rece Lila scored 2:29 into the second period with an assist from senior Grady Gornick and the score remained 1-0 until Superior's Luke Drougas threw a long shot at the net with 51 seconds left in the third to tie the score.
"It was one of those goals where you think, really? That's how they score?" Lockwood said.
It didn't take long for the Raiders to respond as Hanson hooked up with senior co-captains Jordan Halverson and Ben Lundeen for the game-winner 2:32 into the extra session.
Lockwood said Hanson is just one of a number of younger players who have stepped up for the Raiders through the first four games.
"We've got a lot of young guys playing a lot of minutes," he noted. "(Sophomore) Kolton Prater is playing his first year of high school hockey and he's playing a lot, and Hunter Danielson is a freshman who's playing a regular shift. And we have a new goaltender (junior Alex Cohen) who played really well in that game. He made some big saves early before we settled in as a team and played much better. Then we get a sophomore scoring the game winner."
Cohen finished with 25 saves, including 20 through the first two periods to preserve the Raiders 1-0 lead. He made two more early in overtime before Hanson ended it on the Raiders third shot of the extra session.
Superior outshot Hudson 26-22 for the game. The Raiders were 0-for-6 on the power play while the Spartans went 0-for-4.
Earlier in the week the Raiders won their Big Rivers Conference opener with a 6-1 victory Thursday, Nov. 30, in River Falls.
After a scoreless first period the Raiders erupted for five goals in the second period to put the game out of reach.
"They packed it in and forced us to shoot from the outside and it was tough to get shots through, but it's always good to get a conference win," Lockwood said.
Senior co-captain Jack Flattum had a pair of goals in the victory while Gornick, Hanson, junior Cole Danielson and junior Carter Maack scored one apiece. Danielson's and Hanson's tallies came on the power play.
Halverson dished out three assists in the win, including both power play goals, while Gornick and senior Joe Martin had two assists each and senior Alec Kolander, senior Aaron Squires, junior Bennett Schrank and sophomore Nolan Wagner had one apiece.
Senior goalie Jack Klementz made seven saves as the Raiders outshot the Wildcats, 47-9.
Lockwood said the team will remained focused on getting better.
"I think we know we can improve," he said. "I think some of the guys who played on the team last year thought we could just pick up where we left off, but it's a new year and we have to focus on continuing to get better."