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College Hockey:
Last Knight Standing

St. Norbert Rides 26-Game Unbeaten Streak to Pole Position, Adrian Picks Up Additional First Place Vote, Drops One Rung; Conference Playoff Champs Trinity and UMass-Dartmouth Seize Spots Vacated by Colby and New England College in Final D-III Poll

— In the final USCHO.com mens Division III poll, St. Norbert found itself in a familiar spot.

On top for nearly the entire second half of the season, the Green Knights lost two first place votes — two understandably to Adrian, the other, much more curious, went to Elmira — but remained a resounding choice as voters top ranked team.

The idle Plattsburgh Cardinals remained second while third ranked Elmira fell one spot (despite adding a first place tally) to fourth after losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to then-No. 4 Manhattanville in the ECAC West championship game.

The Valiants, meanwhile, have won three consecutive hard-fought contests as they get set to face-off against fifth ranked Norwich in an NCAA quarterfinal tilt.

Since a 4-0 whitewashing at the hands of Colby, the Cadets have been on fire, besting Bowdoin 6-4 and Skidmore 8-0 in the preliminary rounds of the ECAC East conference tournament.

Then in the semis, they continued their remarkable run by knocking off UMass-Boston, 5-2, and walloping Salem State, 8-2, to take home the title. Next up? No. 3 Manhattanville on Saturday evening.

St. Thomas, too, has been extremely impressive as of late. Also winners of three straight, the Tommies, rebounding from a 4-1 defeat at St. Olaf, posted consecutive wins over the Oles (7-3), then convincingly knocked off Bethel (7-1) and then-No. 12 Hamline to take home to MIAC crown.

Ninth ranked UW-Stout will be their next opponent. Face-off is scheduled at their home rink in St. Paul at 7 p.m. CDT Wednesday night.

Despite not playing this past week, Hobart moved up two spots to seventh.

Defending national champion Oswegos season is over. After falling in the SUNYAC championship game to Plattsburgh (and one spot to eighth in the poll), the NCAA committee failed to offer them an at-large bid. For the first time since 2003-04, D-III will have no repeat champion.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is moving in the opposite direction.

The pollsters rewarded their tenacity and guile in taking top ranked St. Norbert — unbeaten now in 26 straight games — to overtime in the NCHA championship game. Though eventually falling 4-3, the Blue Devils ascended two spots to ninth.

Conversely, Middlebury fell two rungs on the D-III ladder after heartbreakingly dropping its title tilt to big underdog Trinity, 3-2, in double overtime.

And then we have Adrian. Though their 20 game winning streak will be intact when they begin their second season at the Division III level, it will not be because they took home the national title.

The Bulldogs, falling again in the poll, now at No. 11, were not chosen by the NCAA committee. Despite winning both the regular season and postseason MCHA tournaments, posting a 26-3-0 mark, and not having tasted defeat since Nov. 30, 2007, they wont get a chance to show how well they match up to D-IIIs most storied programs.

While UW-River Falls, their season also now complete, remained at No. 12, spots 13 and 14 were taken by teams who were rewarded for strong showings in their conference tournaments.

Trinity upset previous No. 14 Colby, 2-1, in the NESCAC semis before ending Middleburys season in shocking fashion with the thrilling overtime victory.

Similar good fortune befell the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth who defeated Nichols, 5-3, to capture the ECAC Northeast crown. The Corsairs, now ranked No. 14 in the country, host the Bantams for the first round of the NCAA tournament on Wednesday.

Tied for the No. 12 position last week, Hamlines loss to St. Thomas dropped them to No. 15.

Colby and New England College, semifinal losers both, dropped out of the last poll of the season.


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