MINNEAPOLIS — As much as things change . . . St. Norbert knows the sentiment. Not that they are complaining. For the second week in a row, only the Adrian Bulldogs’ bite could keep the Green Knights away from a unanimous coronation on their tremendous regular season.
Earning 299 of 300 possible points is definitely nothing to scoff at; nor is their 25 game unbeaten streak. Heading into the NCHA championship tilt Saturday evening against No. 11 University of Wisconsin-Stout, St. Nobert has sets its gaze firmly on the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
The second ranked Plattsburgh Cardinals might have something to say about that, however. In defeating then-No. 5 Oswego in the SUNYAC championship game, 4-3, Plattsburgh at worst secured themselves a home playoff game in the NCAA quarterfinals. And depending on how the numbers shake out, their lot could even improve.
By virtue of its 6-3 victory over last weeks No. 7 Hobart in the ECAC West semis, third ranked Elmira advanced to take on No. 4 Manhattanville in the much-anticipated conference championship tilt. The Valiants advanced by downing Utica, 6-2.
Ascending one spot this week to fifth was Norwich, whose 8-0 blanking of Skidmore, combined with the defending national champions conference title game loss, was enough to curry the voters’ favor.
St. Thomas, meanwhile, jumped up two spots to No. 6 after besting Bethel, 7-1. The Lakers fell to seventh.
The poll’s new No. 8 is perennial power Middlebury, who shut out Williams, 6-0, to advance to the NESCAC semifinal this Saturday in Waterville, Maine. Falling equally far down as Oswego, Hobart — despite its ECAC West quarterfinal win over then-No. 15 Neumann — dropped two spots to ninth.
Most perplexing again this week is Adrian’s plight. 5-3 and 1-0 overtime victors over Milwaukee School of Engineering and Finlandia, respectively, the Bulldogs — winners of 20 straight games — dropped a spot to No. 10. They did earn the lone first place vote not allocated to St. Norbert, but the MCHA regular season and conference champs have apparently failed to earn the respect of most D-III voters. Let’s hope they get a chance to prove their worth on the ice in the NCAA tournament.
Remaining at No. 11 was UW-Stout, who knocked off in-state rival Eau Claire 3-2 in overtime to advance to the NCHA championship to face off against the nation’s top ranked team.
Thus ends the familiarity. Of the bottom four teams in the poll, three were unranked a week ago. New No. 12 Hamline scurried up the poll ladder after taking down St. John’s, 4-2. Idle UW-River Falls — whose season is probably over after getting upset by St. Scholastica last weekend — fell one spot to No. 13.
Rounding out the poll was newcomer Colby (4-1 winner over Wesleyan) and New England College, who reentered the mix after defeating Southern Maine,
5-2. Both teams next play in their conference — NESCAC and ECAC East — semifinals on Saturday.
All losers in their conference playoff games, Bowdoin, Babson, and Neumann dropped out of the poll.